Discrimination of compound gratings: Spatial-frequency channels or local features?

Hiromi Akutsu, Gordon E. Legge

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Models based on spatial-frequency channels and local features provide alternative explanations for suprathreshold pattern discrimination. We compared psychophysical discrimination data with the predictions of the Wilson and Gelb channel model and three local-feature models. The features were peak-valley local contrast, peak-peak local contrast, and luminance gradients. We measured visual sensitivity for discriminating compound gratings (F + 3F or F + 5F, in peaks-add or peaks-subtract phases) whose component contrasts were yoked together so that a contrast increment in one component was accompanied by an equal decrement in the other. The Wilson and Gelb model accounted for the results with peaks-add gratings, but failed to predict those with peaks-subtract gratings. None of the local-feature models explained the results by themselves. Most of the data fell close to an envelope composed of the lowest thresholds of the three feature-detector models, although there were important exceptions. Our findings are consistent with the view that suprathreshold pattern discrimination is mediated by mechanisms responsive to spatially localized features and that more than one type of feature is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2685-2695
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1995


  • Contrast discrimination
  • Local features
  • Pattern discrimination
  • Spatial frequency channels

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