Contrast gain control in plaid pattern detection

Pi Chun Huang, Chien Chung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A plaid is a combination of two gratings whose orientations are orthogonal to each other with the same or similar contrasts. We used plaid patterns as stimuli to investigate the mechanisms underlying the detection of a plaid to understand how the visual system combines information from orientation-selective channels. We used a masking paradigm in which an observer was required to detect a target (either a spiral or a plaid) superimposed on a pedestal. We measured the target threshold versus pedestal contrast (TvC) functions at 7 pedestal contrasts for various target-pedestal combinations with a temporal 2AFC paradigm and a staircase procedure. All TvC functions, except the one with an orthogonal spiral pedestal, showed a dipper shape, although the position of the dip and the slope varied across conditions. The result can be explained by a multiple-mechanism divisive inhibition model, which contains several orientation-selective mechanisms. The response of each mechanism is the excitation of a linear filter divided by a broadband inhibitory input. The threshold is determined by a nonlinear combination of the responses of those mechanisms. Alternative models with mechanism(s) specific for plaid did not provide a better description of the data. Thus, a plaid pattern is mediated by a combination of orientation-selective mechanisms. An early plaid-specific mechanism is not necessary for plaid detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0164171
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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