As information propagates along the ventral visual hierarchy, neuronal responses become both more specific for particular image features and more tolerant of image transformations that preserve those features. Here, we present evidence that neurons in area V2 are selective for local statistics that occur in natural visual textures, and tolerant of manipulations that preserve these statistics. Texture stimuli were generated by sampling from a statistical model, with parameters chosen to match the parameters of a set of visually distinct natural texture images. Stimuli generated with the same statistics are perceptually similar to each other despite differences, arising from the sampling process, in the precise spatial location of features. We assessed the accuracy with which these textures could be classified based on the responses of V1 and V2 neurons recorded individually in anesthetized macaque monkeys. We also assessed the accuracy with which particular samples could be identified, relative to other statistically matched samples. For populations of up to 100 cells, V1 neurons supported better performance in the sample identification task, whereas V2 neurons exhibited better performance in texture classification. Relative to V1, the responses of V2 show greater selectivity and tolerance for the representation of texture statistics.
Keywords: extrastriate visual cortex; macaque; primary visual cortex; texture perception; vision.