Prior object-knowledge sharpens properties of early visual feature-detectors.
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
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Teufel, C., Dakin, S. C., & Fletcher, P. (2018). Prior object-knowledge sharpens properties of early visual feature-detectors.. Sci Rep, 8 (1), 10853. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-28845-5
Early stages of visual processing are carried out by neural circuits activated by simple and specific features, such as the orientation of an edge. A fundamental question in human vision is how the brain organises such intrinsically local information into meaningful properties of objects. Classic models of visual processing emphasise a one-directional flow of information from early feature-detectors to higher-level information-processing. By contrast to this view, and in line with predictive-coding models of perception, here, we provide evidence from human vision that high-level object representations dynamically interact with the earliest stages of cortical visual processing. In two experiments, we used ambiguous stimuli that, depending on the observer's prior object-knowledge, can be perceived as either coherent objects or as a collection of meaningless patches. By manipulating object knowledge we were able to determine its impact on processing of low-level features while keeping sensory stimulation identical. Both studies demonstrate that perception of local features is facilitated in a manner consistent with an observer's high-level object representation (i.e., with no effect on object-inconsistent features). Our results cannot be ascribed to attentional influences. Rather, they suggest that high-level object representations interact with and sharpen early feature-detectors, optimising their performance for the current perceptual context.
Visual Cortex, Humans, Photic Stimulation, Orientation, Visual Perception, Attention, Adolescent, Adult, Female, Male, Young Adult
Wellcome Trust (095692/Z/11/Z)
Wellcome Trust (206368/Z/17/Z)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-28845-5
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/283519
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/