Abstract

Physiological data have revealed characteristic contrast gain and temporal integration signatures of the magnocellular (MC) and the parvocellular (PC) pathways. The goal in this study was to find psychophysical correlates of these signatures. Psychophysical forced-choice, luminance pedestal discrimination data were collected with a stimulus–surround display. A 2.05° four-square stimulus array was varied from 73 to 182 trolands (Td) in a larger 115-Td surround. When the stimulus array was pulsed briefly, discrimination thresholds showed a minimum at the surround retinal illuminance, increasing in a V shape when the stimulus array was incremental or decremental to the surround. When the stimulus array was presented continuously as a steady pedestal within the constant 115-Td surround, discrimination thresholds increased monotonically with stimulus array retinal illuminance, obeying a slope of unity. Exposure duration variation showed temporal summation to extend to longer durations for the pulse increments and decrements than for the steady pedestal condition. Discrimination thresholds for pulsed medium-sized contrast steps showed the contrast gain signature and the temporal signature of the PC pathway. Discrimination thresholds for the steady-pedestal paradigm showed the temporal signature of the MC pathway. Discrimination thresholds for small pedestal steps of the stimulus array from a steady pedestal showed the contrast gain signature of the MC pathway. The data suggested a difference in the spatiotemporal control of adaptation of the two pathways: The MC pathway adapted locally to the stimulus array, while the PC pathway showed little evidence of local adaptation. The experiments show that characteristic signatures of MC- and PC-pathway processing can be demonstrated by use of psychophysical procedures.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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