Supramodal agnosia for oblique mirror orientation in patients with periventricular leukomalacia, Cortex.

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by focal necrosis at the level of the periventricular white matter, often observed in preterm infants. PVL is frequently associated with motor impairment and with visual deficits affecting primary stages of visual processes as well as higher visual cognitive abilities. Here we describe six PVL subjects, with normal verbal IQ, showing orientation perception deficits in both the haptic and visual domains. Subjects were asked to compare the orientation of two stimuli presented simultaneously or sequentially, using both a two alternative forced choice (2AFC) orientation-discrimination and a matching procedure. Visual stimuli were oriented gratings or bars or collinear short lines embedded within a random pattern. Haptic stimuli comprised two rotatable wooden sticks. PVL patients performed at chance in discriminating the oblique orientation, both for visual and haptic stimuli. Moreover when asked to reproduce the oblique orientation, they often oriented the stimulus along the symmetric mirror orientation. The deficit generalized to stimuli varying in many low level features, was invariant for spatiotopic object orientation, and also occurred for sequential presentations. The deficit was specific to oblique orientations, and not for horizontal or vertical stimuli. These findings show that PVL can affect a specific network involved with the supramodal perception of mirror symmetry orientation.

The functional role of serial dependence, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

The world tends to be stable from moment to moment, leading to strong serial correlations in natural scenes. As similar stimuli usually require similar behavioral responses, it is highly likely that the brain has developed strategies to leverage these regularities. A good deal of recent psychophysical evidence is beginning to show that the brain is sensitive to serial correlations, causing strong drifts in observer responses towards previously seen stimuli. However, it is still not clear that this tendency leads to a functional advantage. Here we test a formal model of optimal serial dependence and show that as predicted, serial dependence in an orientation reproduction task is dependent on current stimulus reliability, with less precise stimuli, such as low spatial frequency oblique Gabors, exhibiting the strongest effects. We also show that serial dependence depends on the similarity between two successive stimuli, again consistent with behavior of an ideal observer aiming at minimizing reproduction errors. Lastly, we show that serial dependence leads to faster response times, indicating that the benefits of serial integration go beyond reproduction error. Overall our data show that serial dependence has a beneficial role at various levels of perception, consistent with the idea that the brain exploits temporal redundancy of the visual scene as an optimization strategy

Typical numerosity adaptation despite selectively impaired number acuity in dyscalculia, Neuropsychologia.

It has been suggested that a core deficit of the “number sense” may underlie dyscalculia. We test this idea by measuring perceptual adaptation and discrimination thresholds for numerosity and object size in a group of dyscalculic and typical preadolescents (N=71, mean age 12). We confirmed that numerosity discrimination thresholds are higher in evelopmental dyscalculia, while size thresholds are not affected. However, dyscalculics adapted to numerosity in a similar way to typicals. This suggests that although numerosity thresholds are selectively higher in dyscalculia, the mechanisms for perceiving numerosity are otherwise similar, suggesting that that have a similar, but perhaps noisier, number sense.

Inhibitory surrounds of motion mechanisms revealed by continuous tracking, J Vis, 13 (18), 7.

Continuous psychophysics is a newly developed technique that allows rapid estimation of visual thresholds by asking subjects to track a moving object, then deriving the integration window underlying tracking behavior (Bonnen, Burge, Yates, Pillow, & Cormack, 2015). Leveraging the continuous flow of stimuli and responses, continuous psychophysics allows for estimation of psychophysical thresholds in as little as 1 min. To date this technique has been applied only to tracking visual objects, where it has been used to measure localization thresholds. Here we adapt the technique to visual motion discrimination, by displaying a drifting grating that changes direction on a binary random walk and asking participants to continuously report drift direction by alternate key press. This technique replicates and confirms well-known findings of the motion-perception system. It also proves particularly valuable in demonstrating induced motion, reinforcing evidence for the existence of antagonistic surround fields. At low contrasts, the surround summates with the center, rather than opposing it, again consistent with existing evidence on classical techniques. The user-friendliness and efficiency of the method may lend it to clinical and developmental work.

Serial Effects are optimal, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, (41).

In the target article, Rahnev & Denison (R&D) use serial effects as an example of suboptimality. We show here that serial effects can be beneficial to perception, serving to reduce both error and response times in a near-optimal fashion. Furthermore, serial effects for stable attributes are positive, whereas those for changeable attributes are negative, demonstrating that they are engaged flexibly to optimize performance.

Adult cortical plasticity peaks after every meal, ECVP, 41nd European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP)”, 2018, Trieste, Italia.