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Prior object-knowledge sharpens properties of early visual feature-detectors

Teufel, Christoph, Dakin, Steven C. and Fletcher, Paul C. 2018. Prior object-knowledge sharpens properties of early visual feature-detectors. Scientific Reports 8 , 10853. 10.1038/s41598-018-28845-5

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Early stages of visual processing are carried out by neural circuits activated by simple and specific features, such as the orientation of an edge. A fundamental question in human vision is how the brain organises such intrinsically local information into meaningful properties of objects. Classic models of visual processing emphasise a one-directional flow of information from early feature-detectors to higher-level information-processing. By contrast to this view, and in line with predictive-coding models of perception, here, we provide evidence from human vision that high-level object representations dynamically interact with the earliest stages of cortical visual processing. In two experiments, we used ambiguous stimuli that, depending on the observer’s prior object-knowledge, can be perceived as either coherent objects or as a collection of meaningless patches. By manipulating object knowledge we were able to determine its impact on processing of low-level features while keeping sensory stimulation identical. Both studies demonstrate that perception of local features is facilitated in a manner consistent with an observer’s high-level object representation (i.e., with no effect on object-inconsistent features). Our results cannot be ascribed to attentional influences. Rather, they suggest that high-level object representations interact with and sharpen early feature-detectors, optimising their performance for the current perceptual context.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 June 2018
Date of Acceptance: 13 June 2018
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2020 08:45

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