Uncovering the Spatial Profile of Contour Integration from Fixational Saccades: Evidence for Widespread Processing in V1

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During contour integration, neuronal populations in the primary visual cortex (V1) enhance their responses to the contour while suppressing their responses to the noisy background. However, the spatial extent and profile of these responses are not fully understood. To investigate this question, 2 monkeys were trained on a contour detection task while we measured population responses in V1 using voltage-sensitive dyes. During stimulus presentation the animals made few fixational saccades, and we used their changing gaze position to image and analyze neuronal responses from large part of the stimulus, encoding multiple contour/background elements. We found that contour enhancement was present over the entire contour-mapped areas. The background suppression increased with distance from the contour, extending into background-mapped areas remotely located from the contour. The spatial profile of enhancement and suppression fitted well with a Gaussian model. These results imply that the divergent cortical responses to contour integration are modulated independently and extend over large areas in V1.

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