A recent series of experiments demonstrated a surprising deterioration of visual motion discrimination with increasing stimulus size for stimuli of high contrast. This counterintuitive finding was explained as a result of surround suppression in visual area V5. Equally paradoxical was the finding that older observers showed better performance than younger observers. This second result was explained as an age-related reduction in surround suppression due to changes in GABA-mediated inhibition. Using an opponent motion stimulus, we find an analogous effect and also find that this effect is much reduced in older observers, to the point where they perform better than younger observers. Our long duration stimulus should be beyond the range at which surround-suppressed neurons in V5 are preferentially activated. Having normalized our stimuli relative to contrast threshold, we show that our results can be entirely explained by the relative contrast of the stimulus and speculate that contrast sensitivity may play a role in previously reported results. Our older observers' data similarly can be explained by the relative contrast of the stimulus. The difference between older and younger observers appears to be a result of a weakening of spatial summation at high contrast in younger observers, perhaps caused by earlier saturation of motion mechanisms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems