Tuning of orientation detectors in human vision

Vision Res. 1998 Apr;38(7):963-72. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(97)00322-2.


A new method to study the tuning of orientation detectors in the human visual system is proposed. The stimulus consists of a sequence of flashed sinusoidal gratings of random orientations and spatial phases shown at a fast presentation rate. The subject's task is to report, as fast as possible, when the presence of a particular orientation (horizontal, vertical, or oblique) is seen in the stimulus sequence by pressing a button. The data are analyzed by calculating the empirical distribution of orientations present in the stimulus sequence within an optimal time-window before the button was pressed. The resulting orientation distributions show a "Mexican hat" shape, which resembles the distributions obtained in some single neurons of monkey primary visual cortex using a similar method (Ringach et al., 1997). The findings are consistent with the idea of "lateral inhibition" between neighboring detectors in the orientation domain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time
  • Rotation
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*