A fundamental task of visual perception is to group visual features - sometimes spatially separated and partially occluded - into coherent, unified representations of objects. Perceptual grouping can vastly simplify the description of a visual scene and is critical for our visual system to understand the three-dimensional visual world. Numerous neurophysiological and brain imaging studies have demonstrated that neural mechanisms of perceptual grouping are characterized by the enhancement of neural responses throughout the visual processing hierarchy, from lower visual areas processing grouped features to higher visual areas representing objects and shapes from grouping [1-3]. In a series of psychophysical adaptation experiments, we made the counterintuitive observation that perceptual grouping amplified the shape aftereffect but meanwhile, reduced the tilt aftereffect and the threshold elevation aftereffect (TEAE). Furthermore, the modulation of perceptual grouping on the TEAE showed a partial interocular transfer. This finding suggests a 2-fold effect of perceptual grouping - enhancing the high-level shape representation and attenuating the low-level feature representation even at a monocular level. We propose that this effect is a functional manifestation of a predictive coding scheme [4-8] and reflects an efficient code of visual information across lower and higher visual cortical areas.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2011CBA00405 and 2010CB833903), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 30925014, 30870762, and 90920012), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. D.K. was partially supported by the World Class University program funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation of Korea (R31-10008) and by the National Institutes of Health grant R01 EY015261.