To explore spatial interactions between visual mechanisms in the Fourier domain we measured detection thresholds for vertical and horizontal sine-wave gratings (4.4 deg diameter) over a range of spatial frequencies (0.5-23 c/deg) in the presence of grating and plaid masks with component contrasts of 8%, orientations of ±45° and a spatial frequency of 1 c/deg. The mask suppressed the target grating over a range of ±1 octave, and the plaid produced more suppression than the grating, consistent with summation of mask components in a broadly tuned contrast gain pool. At greater differences in spatial frequency (∼3 octaves), the plaid and grating masks both produced about 3 dB of facilitation (they reduced detection thresholds by a factor of about √2). At yet further distances (∼4 octaves) the masks had no effect. The facilitation cannot be attributed to a reduction of uncertainty by the mask because (a) it occurs for mask components that have very different spatial frequencies and orientations from the test and (b) the large stimulus size and central fixation point mean there was no spatial uncertainty that could be reduced. We suggest the results are due to long-range sensory interactions (in the Fourier domain) between mask and test-channels. The effects could be due to either direct facilitation or disinhibition. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- contrast gain control
- human vision