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Contrast adaptation in retinal and cortical evoked potentials: No adaptation to low spatial frequencies

  • THOMAS STEPHAN HEINRICH (a1) and MICHAEL BACH (a1)

Abstract

Contrast adaptation occurs in both the retina and the cortex. Defining its spatial dependence is crucial for understanding its potential roles. We thus asked to what degree contrast adaptation depends on spatial frequency, including cross-adaptation. Measuring the pattern electroretinogram (PERG) and the visual evoked potential (VEP) allowed separating retinal and cortical contributions. In ten subjects we recorded simultaneous PERGs and VEPs. Test stimuli were sinusoidal gratings of 98% contrast with spatial frequencies of 0.5 or 5.0 cpd, phase reversing at 17 reversals/s. Adaptation was controlled by prolonged presentation of these test stimuli or homogenous gray fields of the same luminance. When adaptation and test frequency were identical, we observed significant contrast adaptation only at 5 cpd: an amplitude reduction in the PERG (−22%) and VEP (−58%), and an effective reduction of latency in the PERG (−0.95 ms). When adapting at 5 cpd and testing at 0.5 cpd, the opposite effect was observed: enhancement of VEP amplitude by +26% and increase in effective PERG latency by +1.35 ms. When adapting at 0.5 cpd and testing at 5 cpd, there was no significant amplitude change in PERG and VEP, but a small effective PERG latency increase of +0.65 ms. The 0.5-cpd channel was not adapted by spatial frequencies of 0.5 cpd. The adaptability of the 5-cpd channel may mediate improved detail recognition after prolonged blur. The existence of both adaptable and nonadaptable mechanisms in the retina allows for the possibility that by comparing the adaptational state of spatial-frequency channels the retina can discern between overall low contrast and defocus in emmetropization control.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Michael Bach, Elektrophysiologisches Labor, Universitäts-Augenklinik, Killianstr. 5, 79106 Freiburg, Germany. E-mail: bach@uni-freiburg.de

Keywords

Contrast adaptation in retinal and cortical evoked potentials: No adaptation to low spatial frequencies

  • THOMAS STEPHAN HEINRICH (a1) and MICHAEL BACH (a1)

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