Dynamic characteristics of spatial mechanisms coding contour structures

Spatial Vision 12:29-42 (1999)
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Spatial facilitation has been observed with luminance-defined, achromatic stimuli on achromatic backgrounds as well as with targets and inducers defined by colour contrast. This paper reviews psychophysical results from detection experiments with human observers showing the conditions under which spatially separated contour inducers facilitate the detection of simultaneously presented target stimuli. The findings point towards two types of spatial mechanisms: (i) Short-range mechanisms that are sensitive to narrowly spaced stimuli of small size and, at distinct target locations, selective to the contrast polarity of targets and inducers. (ii) Long-range mechanisms that are triggered by longer stimuli, generate facilitation across wider spatial gaps between targets and inducers, and are insensitive to their contrast polarity. Spatial facilitation with chromatic stimuli requires a longer inducer exposure than spatial facilitation with achromatic stimuli, which is already fully effective at inducer exposures of 30 ms. This difference in temporal dynamics indicates some functional segregation between mechanisms for colour and luminance contrast in the perception of space.
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