Evidence of Stereoscopic Surface Disambiguation in the Responses of V1 Neurons.
ABSTRACT: For the important task of binocular depth perception from complex natural-image stimuli, the neurophysiological basis for disambiguating multiple matches between the eyes across similar features has remained a long-standing problem. Recurrent interactions among binocular disparity-tuned neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) could play a role in stereoscopic computations by altering responses to favor the most likely depth interpretation for a given image pair. Psychophysical research has shown that binocular disparity stimuli displayed in 1 region of the visual field can be extrapolated into neighboring regions that contain ambiguous depth information. We tested whether neurons in macaque V1 interact in a similar manner and found that unambiguous binocular disparity stimuli displayed in the surrounding visual fields of disparity-selective V1 neurons indeed modified their responses when either bistable stereoscopic or uniform featureless stimuli were presented within their receptive field centers. The delayed timing of the response behavior compared with the timing of classical surround suppression and multiple control experiments suggests that these modulations are carried out by slower disparity-specific recurrent connections among V1 neurons. These results provide explicit evidence that the spatial interactions that are predicted by cooperative algorithms play an important role in solving the stereo correspondence problem.
Project description:Stereoscopic vision delivers a sense of depth based on binocular information but additionally acts as a mechanism for achieving correspondence between patterns arriving at the left and right eyes. We analyse quantitatively the cortical architecture for stereoscopic vision in two areas of macaque visual cortex. For primary visual cortex V1, the result is consistent with a module that is isotropic in cortical space with a diameter of at least 3 mm in surface extent. This implies that the module for stereo is larger than the repeat distance between ocular dominance columns in V1. By contrast, in the extrastriate cortical area V5/MT, which has a specialized architecture for stereo depth, the module for representation of stereo is about 1 mm in surface extent, so the representation of stereo in V5/MT is more compressed than V1 in terms of neural wiring of the neocortex. The surface extent estimated for stereo in V5/MT is consistent with measurements of its specialized domains for binocular disparity. Within V1, we suggest that long-range horizontal, anatomical connections form functional modules that serve both binocular and monocular pattern recognition: this common function may explain the distortion and disruption of monocular pattern vision observed in amblyopia.This article is part of the themed issue 'Vision in our three-dimensional world'.
Project description:The left and right eyes receive subtly different images from a visual scene. Binocular disparities of retinal image locations are correlated with variation in the depth of objects in the scene and make stereoscopic depth perception possible. Disparity stereoscopically specifies a stimulus; changing the stimulus in a way that conserves its disparity leaves the stimulus stereoscopically unchanged. Therefore, a person's ability to use stereo to see the depth separating any two objects should depend only on the disparities of the objects, which in turn depend on where the objects are, not what they are. However, I find that the disparity difference between two stimuli by itself predicts neither stereoacuity nor perceived depth. Human stereo vision is shown here to be most sensitive at detecting the relative depth of two gratings when they are parallel. Rotating one grating by as little as 10 degrees lowers sensitivity. The rotation can make a perceptible depth separation invisible, although it changes neither the relative nor absolute disparities of the gratings, only their relative orientations. The effect of relative orientation is not confined to stimuli that, like gratings, vary along one dimension or to stimuli perceived to have a dominant orientation. Rather, it is the relative orientation of the one-dimensional components of stimuli, even broadband stimuli, that matters. This limit on stereoscopic depth perception appears to be intrinsic to the visual system's computation of disparity; by taking place within orientation bands, the computation renders the coding of disparity inseparable from the coding of orientation.
Project description:Binocular vision is obviously useful for depth perception, but it might also enhance other components of visual processing, such as image segmentation. We used naturalistic images to determine whether giving an object a stereoscopic offset of 15-120 arcmin of crossed disparity relative to its background would make the object easier to recognize in briefly presented (33-133 ms), temporally masked displays. Disparity had a beneficial effect across a wide range of disparities and display durations. Most of this benefit occurred whether or not the stereoscopic contour agreed with the object's luminance contour. We attribute this benefit to an orienting of spatial attention that selected the object and its local background for enhanced 2D pattern processing. At longer display durations, contour agreement provided an additional benefit, and a separate experiment using random-dot stimuli confirmed that stereoscopic contours plausibly contributed to recognition at the longer display durations in our experiment. We conclude that in real-world situations binocular vision confers an advantage not only for depth perception, but also for recognizing objects from their luminance patterns and bounding contours.
Project description:Neurons selective for binocular disparity form the neural substrate for stereoscopic depth perception and are found in several areas of primate visual cortex. Presumably, multiple representations of disparity exist to serve different functions, but the specific contributions of different visual areas to depth perception remain poorly understood. We examine this issue by comparing the contributions of the middle temporal (MT) area to performance of two depth discrimination tasks: a "coarse" task that involves discrimination between absolute disparities in the presence of noise, and a "fine" task that involves discrimination of very small differences in relative disparity between two stimuli in the absence of noise. In the fine task, we find that electrical microstimulation of MT does not affect perceptual decisions, although many individual MT neurons have sufficient sensitivity to account for behavioral performance. In contrast, microstimulation at the same recording sites does bias depth percepts in the coarse task. We hypothesized that these results may be explained by the fact that MT neurons do not represent relative disparity signals that are thought to be essential for the fine task. This hypothesis was supported by single-unit recordings that show that MT neurons signal absolute, but not relative, disparities in a stimulus configuration similar to that used in the fine task. This work establishes a link between the neural representation of disparity in MT and the functional contributions of this area to depth perception.
Project description:The horizontal binocular disparity is a critical factor for the visual fatigue induced by watching stereoscopic TVs. Stereoscopic images that possess the disparity within the 'comfort zones' and remain still in the depth direction are considered comfortable to the viewers as 2D images. However, the difference in brain activities between processing such comfortable stereoscopic images and 2D images is still less studied. The DP3 (differential P3) signal refers to an event-related potential (ERP) component indicating attentional processes, which is typically evoked by odd target stimuli among standard stimuli in an oddball task. The present study found that the DP3 signal elicited by the comfortable 3D images exhibits the delayed peak latency and enhanced peak amplitude over the anterior and central scalp regions compared to the 2D images. The finding suggests that compared to the processing of the 2D images, more attentional resources are involved in the processing of the stereoscopic images even though they are subjectively comfortable.
Project description:The key problem of stereoscopic vision is traditionally defined as accurately finding the positional shifts of corresponding object features between left and right images. Here, we demonstrate that the problem must be considered in a four-dimensional parameter space; with respect not only to shifts in space (X, Y), but also spatial frequency (SF) and orientation (OR). The proposed model sums outputs of binocular energy units linearly over the multi-dimensional V1 parameter space (X, Y, SF, OR). Theoretical analyses and physiological experiments show that many binocular neurons achieve sharp binocular tuning properties by pooling the output of multiple neurons with relatively broad tuning. Pooling in the space domain sharpens disparity-selective responses in the SF domain so that the responses to combinations of unmatched left-right SFs are attenuated. Conversely, pooling in the SF domain sharpens disparity selectivity in the space domain, reducing the possibility of false matches. Analogous effects are observed for the OR domain in that the spatial pooling sharpens the binocular tuning in the OR domain. Such neurons become selective to relative OR disparity. Therefore, pooling allows the visual system to refine binocular information into a form more desirable for stereopsis.This article is part of the themed issue 'Vision in our three-dimensional world'.
Project description:Both dorsal and ventral cortical visual streams contain neurons sensitive to binocular disparities, but the two streams may underlie different aspects of stereoscopic vision. Here we investigate stereopsis in the neurological patient D.F., whose ventral stream, specifically lateral occipital cortex, has been damaged bilaterally, causing profound visual form agnosia. Despite her severe damage to cortical visual areas, we report that DF's stereo vision is strikingly unimpaired. She is better than many control observers at using binocular disparity to judge whether an isolated object appears near or far, and to resolve ambiguous structure-from-motion. DF is, however, poor at using relative disparity between features at different locations across the visual field. This may stem from a difficulty in identifying the surface boundaries where relative disparity is available. We suggest that the ventral processing stream may play a critical role in enabling healthy observers to extract fine depth information from relative disparities within one surface or between surfaces located in different parts of the visual field.
Project description:Binocular depth perception is an important mechanism to segregate the visual scene for mapping relevant objects in our environment. Convergent evidence from psychophysical and neurophysiological studies have revealed asymmetries between the processing of near (crossed) and far (uncrossed) binocular disparities. The aim of the present study was to test if near or far objects are processed faster and with higher contrast sensitivity in the visual system. We therefore measured the relationship between binocular disparity and simple reaction time (RT) as well as contrast gain based on the contrast-RT function in young healthy adults. RTs were measured to suddenly appearing cyclopean target stimuli, which were checkerboard patterns encoded by depth in dynamic random dot stereograms (DRDS). The DRDS technique allowed us to selectively study the stereoscopic processing system by eliminating all monocular cues. The results showed that disparity and contrast had significant effects on RTs. RTs as a function of disparity followed a U-shaped tuning curve indicating an optimum at around 15 arc min, where RTs were minimal. Surprisingly, the disparity tuning of RT was much less pronounced for far disparities. At the optimal disparity, we measured advantages of about 80 ms and 30 ms for near disparities at low (10%) and high (90%) contrasts, respectively. High contrast always reduced RTs as well as the disparity dependent differences. Furthermore, RT-based contrast gains were higher for near disparities in the range of disparities where RTs were the shortest. These results show that the sensitivity of the human visual system is biased for near versus far disparities and near stimuli can result in faster motor responses, probably because they bear higher biological relevance.
Project description:Stereopsis, the perception of depth based on the disparity of the images projected to the retinas of the two eyes, is an important process in our three-dimensional world; however, 3-5% of the population is stereoblind or has seriously impaired stereovision. Here we provide evidence for the recovery of stereopsis through perceptual learning, the repetitive practice of a demanding visual task, in human adults long deprived of normal binocular vision. We used a training paradigm that combines monocular cues that were correlated perfectly with the disparity cues. Following perceptual learning (thousands of trials) with stereoscopic gratings, five adults who initially were stereoblind or stereoanomalous showed substantial recovery of stereopsis, both on psychophysical tests with stimuli that contained no monocular cues and on clinical testing. They reported that depth "popped out" in daily life, and enjoyed 3D movies for the first time. After training, stereo tests with dynamic random-dot stereograms and band-pass noise revealed the properties of the recovered stereopsis: It has reduced resolution and precision, although it is based on perceiving depth by detecting binocular disparity. We conclude that some human adults deprived of normal binocular vision can recover stereopsis at least partially.
Project description:In invertebrate predators such as the praying mantis and vertebrate predators such as wild cats the ability to detect small differences in inter-ocular retinal disparities is a critical means for accurately determining the depth of moving objects such as prey. In mammals, the first neurons along the visual pathway that encode binocular disparities are found in the visual cortex. However, a precise functional architecture for binocular disparity has never been demonstrated in any species, and coarse maps for disparity have been found in only one primate species. Moreover, the dominant approach for assaying the developmental plasticity of binocular cortical neurons used monocular tests of ocular dominance to infer binocular function. The few studies that examined the relationship between ocular dominance and binocular disparity of individual cells used single-unit recordings and have provided conflicting results regarding whether ocular dominance can predict the selectivity or sensitivity to binocular disparity. We used two-photon calcium imaging to sample the response to monocular and binocular visual stimuli from nearly every adjacent neuron in a small region of the cat visual cortex, area 18. Here we show that local circuits for ocular dominance always have smooth and graded transitions from one apparently monocular functional domain to an adjacent binocular region. Most unexpectedly, we discovered a new map in the cat visual cortex that had a precise functional micro-architecture for binocular disparity selectivity. At the level of single cells, ocular dominance was unrelated to binocular disparity selectivity or sensitivity. When the local maps for ocular dominance and binocular disparity both had measurable gradients at a given cortical site, the two gradient directions were orthogonal to each other. Together, these results indicate that, from the perspective of the spiking activity of individual neurons, ocular dominance cannot predict binocular disparity tuning. However, the precise local arrangement of ocular dominance and binocular disparity maps provide new clues regarding how monocular and binocular depth cues may be combined and decoded.