We describe evidence consistent with the proposal that the visual system contains a parallel array of size-tuned mechanisms sensitive to orientation texture-defined (OTD) form, and propose that the relative activity of these mechanisms determines spatial frequency discrimination threshold for OTD gratings. Using a pattern of short lines we measured spatial frequency discrimination thresholds for OTD gratings and luminance-defined (LD) gratings. For OTD gratings, the orientation of texture lines varied sinusoidally across the bars of the gratings, but line luminance was constant. For LD gratings, line orientation was constant, but line luminance varied sinusoidally across the bars of the grating. When the number of texture lines (i.e, spatial samples) per grating cycle was below about six, spatial sampling strongly affected both the spatial frequency discrimination and grating detection thresholds for OTD and LD gratings. However, when the number of spatial samples per grating cycle exceeded about six, plots of both discrimination threshold and detection threshold were different for OTD and LD gratings. For an OTD grating of any given spatial frequency, spatial frequency discrimination threshold fell as the number of samples per grating cycle was increased while holding texture line length constant: the lower limit was reached at six to ten samples per cycle. When we progressively increased the viewing distance (keeping the cycles per degree (cpd) constant): spatial frequency discrimination threshold reached a lower limit and increased thereafter. We propose that this minimum threshold represents a balance between opposing effects of the number of samples per grating cycle and the length of texture lines, and approaches the absolute physiological lower limit for OTD gratings. Spatial frequency discrimination was possible up to at least 7 cpd. Grating acuity for an OTD grating was considerably lower than the physiological limit for LD gratings, presumably because detectors of OTD form include a spatial integration stage following the processing of individual lines. For an LD grating, discrimination threshold fell as the number of samples per grating cycle was increased and asymptoted at six to ten samples per cycle. Spatial frequency discrimination thresholds for OTD and LD gratings were similar at low spatial frequencies (up to 3-4 cpd), but increased more steeply for OTD gratings at high spatial frequencies. For both OTD and LD gratings, discrimination threshold fell steeply as the number of grating cycles was increased from 0.5 to ca. 2.5 cycles, and thereafter decreased more slowly or not at all suggesting that, for both OTD and LD gratings, spatial frequency discrimination can be regarded as a special case of line interval or bar width discrimination. As orientation contrast wits progressively increased, discrimination threshold for an OTD grating fell steeply up to about four to five times grating detection threshold, then saturated. This parallels the effect of luminance contrast on discrimination threshold for an LD grating.
- Spatial form
- Spatial frequency discrimination
- Texture segregation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems