Anisotropy for spatial summation of elongated patches of grating: A tale of two tails

Timothy S. Meese*, Robert F. Hess

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of spatial summation often use sinusoidal gratings with blurred edges. When the envelope is elongated (i) along the grating stripes and (ii) at right angles to the grating stripes, we refer to the stimuli as skunk-tails and tiger-tails respectively. Previous work [Polat & Tyler, 1999; Vision Research, 39, 887-895.] has found that sensitivity to skunk-tails is greater than for tiger-tails, but there have been several failures to replicate this result within a subset of the conditions. To address this we measured detection thresholds for skunk-tails, tiger-tails and squares of grating with sides matched to the lengths of the tails. For foveal viewing, we found a contrast sensitivity advantage in the order of 2 dB for skunk-tails over tiger-tails, but only for horizontal gratings. For vertical gratings, sensitivity was very similar for both tail-types. When the stimuli were presented parafoveally (upper right visual field), a small advantage was found for skunk-tails over tiger-tails at both orientations, and spatial summation slopes were close to that of the ideal observer. We did not replicate the findings of Polat & Tyler, but our results are consistent with (i) those of Foley et al. [Foley, J. M., Varadharajan, S., Koh, C. C., & Farias, C. Q. (2007) Vision Research, 47, 85-107.] who used only vertical gratings and (ii) those from modelfest, where only horizontal gratings were used. The small effect of tail-type here suggests an anisotropy in the underlying physiology. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1880-1892
Number of pages13
JournalVision Research
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


  • area summation
  • contrast detection
  • contrast sensitivity
  • energy
  • filter shape
  • human vision
  • ideal summation
  • modelfest
  • spatial summation
  • V1


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