Contour saliency in primary visual cortex

Neuron. 2006 Jun 15;50(6):951-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.04.035.


Contour integration is an important intermediate stage of object recognition, in which line segments belonging to an object boundary are perceptually linked and segmented from complex backgrounds. Contextual influences observed in primary visual cortex (V1) suggest the involvement of V1 in contour integration. Here, we provide direct evidence that, in monkeys performing a contour detection task, there was a close correlation between the responses of V1 neurons and the perceptual saliency of contours. Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that single neuronal responses encode the presence or absence of a contour as reliably as the animal's behavioral responses. We also show that the same visual contours elicited significantly weaker neuronal responses when they were not detected in the detection task, or when they were unattended. Our results demonstrate that contextual interactions in V1 play a pivotal role in contour integration and saliency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*