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Contextual modulation revealed by optical imaging exhibits figural asymmetry in macaque V1 and V2

Authors Zarella MD, Ts'o DY

Received 2 February 2016

Accepted for publication 2 February 2017

Published 11 April 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 1—12


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Margaret Wong-Riley

Mark D Zarella, Daniel Y Ts’o

Department of Neurosurgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Abstract: Neurons in early visual cortical areas are influenced by stimuli presented well beyond the confines of their classical receptive fields, endowing them with the ability to encode fine-scale features while also having access to the global context of the visual scene. This property can potentially define a role for the early visual cortex to contribute to a number of important visual functions, such as surface segmentation and figure–ground segregation. It is unknown how extraclassical response properties conform to the functional architecture of the visual cortex, given the high degree of functional specialization in areas V1 and V2. We examined the spatial relationships of contextual activations in macaque V1 and V2 with intrinsic signal optical imaging. Using figure–ground stimulus configurations defined by orientation or motion, we found that extraclassical modulation is restricted to the cortical representations of the figural component of the stimulus. These modulations were positive in sign, suggesting a relative enhancement in neuronal activity that may reflect an excitatory influence. Orientation and motion cues produced similar patterns of activation that traversed the functional subdivisions of V2. The asymmetrical nature of the enhancement demonstrated the capacity for visual cortical areas as early as V1 to contribute to figure–ground segregation, and the results suggest that this information can be extracted from the population activity constrained only by retinotopy, and not the underlying functional organization.

Keywords: striate, extrastriate, segmentation, figure–ground, functional organization

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