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Responses of Human Visual Cortex to Uniform Surfaces

John-Dylan Haynes, R. Beau Lotto, Geraint Rees and Dale Purves
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 101, No. 12 (Mar. 23, 2004), pp. 4286-4291
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3371601
Page Count: 6
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Responses of Human Visual Cortex to Uniform Surfaces
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Abstract

Surface perception is fundamental to human vision, yet most studies of visual cortex have focused on the processing of borders. We therefore investigated the responses of human visual cortex to parametric changes in the luminance of uniform surfaces by using functional MRI. Early visual areas V1 and V2/V3 showed strong and reliable increases in signal for both increments and decrements in surface luminance. Responses were significantly larger for decrements than for increments, which was fully accounted for by differences in retinal illumination arising from asymmetric pupil dynamics. Responses to both sustained and transient changes of illumination were transient. Signals in early visual cortex scaled linearly with the magnitude of change in retinal illumination, as did subjects' subjective ratings of the perceived brightness of the stimuli. Our findings show that early visual cortex responds strongly to surfaces and that perception of surface brightness is compatible with brain responses at the earliest cortical stages of processing.

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