Journal of Neurophysiology

Neural Responses in the Macaque V1 to Bar Stimuli With Various Lengths Presented on the Blind Spot

Masayuki Matsumoto, Hidehiko Komatsu

Abstract

Although there is no retinal input within the blind spot, it is filled with the same visual attributes as its surround. Earlier studies showed that neural responses are evoked at the retinotopic representation of the blind spot in the primary visual cortex (V1) when perceptual filling-in of a surface or completion of a bar occurs. To determine whether these neural responses correlate with perception, we recorded from V1 neurons whose receptive fields overlapped the blind spot. Bar stimuli of various lengths were presented at the blind spots of monkeys while they performed a fixation task. One end of the bar was fixed at a position outside the blind spot, and the position of the other end was varied. Perceived bar length was measured using a similar set of bar stimuli in human subjects. As long as one end of the bar was inside the blind spot, the perceived bar length remained constant, and when the bar exceeded the blind spot, perceptual completion occurred, and the perceived bar length increased substantially. Some V1 neurons of the monkey exhibited a significant increase in their activity when the bar exceeded the blind spot, even though the amount of the retinal stimulation increased only slightly. These response increases coincided with perceptual completion observed in human subjects and were much larger than would be expected from simple spatial summation and could not be explained by contextual modulation. We conclude that the completed bar appearing on the part of the receptive field embedded within the blind spot gave rise to the observed increase in neuronal activity.

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