Royal Society Publishing

Multiple groups of orientation–selective visual mechanisms underlying rapid orientated–line detection

David H. Foster, Stephen Westland

Abstract

Visual search for an edge or line element differing in orientation from a background of other edge or line elements can be performed rapidly and effortlessly. In this study, based on psychophysical measurements with ten human observers, threshold values of the angle between a target and background line elements were obtained as functions of background–element orientation, in brief masked displays. A repeated–loess analysis of the threshold functions suggested the existence of several groups of orientation–selective mechanisms contributing to rapid orientated–line detection; specifically, coarse, intermediate and fine mechanisms with preferred orientations spaced at angles of approximately 90°, 35°–50°, and 10°–25°, respectively. The preferred orientations of coarse and some intermediate mechanisms coincided with the vertical or horizontal of the frontoparallel plane, but the preferred orientations of fine mechanisms varied randomly from observer to observer, possibly reflecting individual variations in neuronal sampling characteristics.

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