Recent sensory experience can alter our perception and change the response characteristics of sensory neurons. These effects of sensory adaptation are a ubiquitous property of perceptual systems and are believed to be of fundamental importance to sensory coding. Yet we know little about how adaptation to stimulus ensembles affects our perception of the environment as most psychophysical experiments employ adaptation protocols that focus on prolonged exposure to a single visual attribute. Here, we investigate how concurrent adaptation to multiple directions of motion affects perception of subsequently presented motion using the direction aftereffect. In different conditions, observers adapted to a stimulus ensemble comprised of dot directions sampled from different distributions or to bidirectional motion. Increasing the variance of normally distributed directions reduced the magnitude of the peak direction aftereffect and broadened its tuning profile. Sampling of asymmetric Gaussian and uniform distributions resulted in shifts of direction aftereffect tuning profiles consistent with changes in the perceived global direction of the adapting stimulus. Adding dots in a direction opposite or orthogonal to a unidirectional adapting stimulus led to a pronounced reduction in the direction aftereffect. A simple population-coding model, in which adaptation selectively alters the responsivity of direction-selective neurons, can accommodate the effects of multidirectional adaptation on the perceived direction of motion.
Keywords: adaptation; aftereffects; direction of aftereffect; modeling; population coding.
© 2014 ARVO.