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Hyperacuity for spatiallocalization of contrast-modulated patterns


Volz,  H
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Volz, H. (1996). Hyperacuity for spatiallocalization of contrast-modulated patterns. Vision Research, 36(9), 1329-1339. doi:10.1016/0042-6989(95)00234-0.

The acuity for localizing the position of a grating and other first order patterns which are defined directly by the luminance distribution, is much higher than the resolution for such gratings. This well-described phenomenon usually is referred to as hyperacuity, and is regarded as a cortical function which is not limited by the optics and the sampling properties of the eye. Second order patterns which can be defined by the distribution of local contrast gained some interest because they require more complex processing mechanisms than first order patterns. We investigated how well gratings and bars which are exclusively defined by the variation of the local contrast of static random dot patterns can be localized in space. In this case localization acuity does not reach the precision which is known for first order patterns. However, the localization of contrast-modulatedpatterns can be almost one order of magnitude better than second order grating resolution, and therefore reaches into the hyperacuity range. In combination with findings for motion-defined or stereo-defined patterns it is concluded that the brain mechanisms responsible for the localization of features in the visual scene have not only access to first order information which is available immediately from the retinal image, but in addition, to second order information which has to be extracted from the retinal intensity distribution by some sort of nonlinear processing.