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A common contrast pooling rule for suppression within and between the eyes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2008

School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
*Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tim S. Meese, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham B47ET, UK. E-mail:


Recent work has revealed multiple pathways for cross-orientation suppression in cat and human vision. In particular, ipsiocular and interocular pathways appear to assert their influence before binocular summation in human but have different (1) spatial tuning, (2) temporal dependencies, and (3) adaptation after-effects. Here we use mask components that fall outside the excitatory passband of the detecting mechanism to investigate the rules for pooling multiple mask components within these pathways. We measured psychophysical contrast masking functions for vertical 1 cycle/deg sine-wave gratings in the presence of left or right oblique (±45 deg) 3 cycles/deg mask gratings with contrast C%, or a plaid made from their sum, where each component (i) had contrast 0.5Ci%. Masks and targets were presented to two eyes (binocular), one eye (monoptic), or different eyes (dichoptic). Binocular-masking functions superimposed when plotted against C, but in the monoptic and dichoptic conditions, the grating produced slightly more suppression than the plaid when Ci ≥ 16%. We tested contrast gain control models involving two types of contrast combination on the denominator: (1) spatial pooling of the mask after a local nonlinearity (to calculate either root mean square contrast or energy) and (2) “linear suppression” (Holmes & Meese, 2004, Journal of Vision4, 1080–1089), involving the linear sum of the mask component contrasts. Monoptic and dichoptic masking were typically better fit by the spatial pooling models, but binocular masking was not: it demanded strict linear summation of the Michelson contrast across mask orientation. Another scheme, in which suppressive pooling followed compressive contrast responses to the mask components (e.g., oriented cortical cells), was ruled out by all of our data. We conclude that the different processes that underlie monoptic and dichoptic masking use the same type of contrast pooling within their respective suppressive fields, but the effects do not sum to predict the binocular case.

Research Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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