Behavioral evidence of filling-in at the blind spot of the monkey

Vis Neurosci. Nov-Dec 1994;11(6):1103-13. doi: 10.1017/s0952523800006921.


In human subjects, the blind spot is perceptually filled-in by color and brightness from the surrounding visual field. The present behavioral study examined the occurrence of color filling-in at the blind spot in monkeys. First, the location of the blind spot was determined using a monocular saccade task. The blind spots were located on the horizontal meridian at approximately 15-17 deg from the fixation point in the temporal visual field. Then, filling-in at the blind spot was tested by determining if the monkey could discriminate between an annulus presented on the blind spot and a homogeneous disk in the normal visual field. In this task, the monkey was required to make a saccade to a homogeneous disk of the same color and size as an annulus presented simultaneously in the opposite field. Both stimuli were large enough to cover the blind spot and the inner circle of the annulus was confined inside the blind spot. All four monkeys tested performed this task correctly in over 80% of the trials. However, when one eye was covered and the annulus was presented on the blind spot of the uncovered eye, performance deteriorated significantly. To confirm that these results reflected filling-in, one monkey was trained to maintain fixation when two identical homogeneous disks appeared in opposite visual fields. When only one eye was uncovered, and the annulus was presented on the blind spot of the uncovered eye, the monkey maintained fixation in most of the trials. These results show that monkeys were unable to distinguish an annulus from a homogeneous disk when the annulus was presented on the blind spot. This indicates that color filling-in occurs at the blind spot in monkeys and opens possibility to physiological experiments to study the neural mechanisms of filling-in.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Optic Disk / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Fields