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Variability in visual cortex size reflects tradeoff between local orientation sensitivity and global orientation modulation

Song, Chen, Schwarzkopf, Dietrich S. and Rees, Geraint 2013. Variability in visual cortex size reflects tradeoff between local orientation sensitivity and global orientation modulation. Nature Communications 4 , 2201. 10.1038/ncomms3201

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Abstract

The surface area of early visual cortices varies several fold across healthy adult humans and is genetically heritable. But the functional consequences of this anatomical variability are still largely unexplored. Here we show that interindividual variability in human visual cortical surface area reflects a tradeoff between sensitivity to visual details and susceptibility to visual context. Specifically, individuals with larger primary visual cortices can discriminate finer orientation differences, whereas individuals with smaller primary visual cortices experience stronger perceptual modulation by global orientation contexts. This anatomically correlated tradeoff between discrimination sensitivity and contextual modulation of orientation perception, however, does not generalize to contrast perception or luminance perception. Neural field simulations based on a scaling of intracortical circuits reproduce our empirical observations. Together our findings reveal a feature-specific shift in the scope of visual perception from context-oriented to detail-oriented with increased visual cortical surface area.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Psychology
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2013
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 16:48
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/106725

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