Sharpening vision by adapting to flicker Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Human vision is surprisingly malleable. A static stimulus can seem to move after prolonged exposure to movement (the motion aftereffect), and exposure to tilted lines can make vertical lines seem oppositely tilted (the tilt aftereffect). The paradigm used to induce such distortions (adaptation) can provide powerful insights into the computations underlying human visual experience. Previously spatial form and stimulus dynamics were thought to be encoded independently, but here we show that adaptation to stimulus dynamics can sharpen form perception. We find that fast flicker adaptation (FFAd) shifts the tuning of face perception to higher spatial frequencies, enhances the acuity of spatial vision-allowing people to localize inputs with greater precision and to read finer scaled text, and it selectively reduces sensitivity to coarse-scale form signals. These findings are consistent with two interrelated influences: FFAd reduces the responsiveness of magnocellular neurons (which are important for encoding dynamics, but can have poor spatial resolution), and magnocellular responses contribute coarse spatial scale information when the visual system synthesizes form signals. Consequently, when magnocellular responses are mitigated via FFAd, human form perception is transiently sharpened because "blur" signals are mitigated.

publication date

  • November 1, 2016