A spatial frequency spectral peakedness model predicts discrimination performance of regularity in dot patterns

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Subjective assessments of spatial regularity are common in everyday life and also in science, for example in developmental biology. It has recently been shown that regularity is an adaptable visual dimension. It was proposed that regularity is coded via the peakedness of the distribution of neural responses across receptive field size. Here, we test this proposal for jittered square lattices of dots. We examine whether discriminability correlates with a simple peakedness measure across different presentation conditions (dot number, size, and average spacing). Using a filter-rectify-filter model, we determined responses across scale. Consistently, two peaks are present: a lower frequency peak corresponding to the dot spacing of the regular pattern and a higher frequency peak corresponding to the pattern element (dot). We define the “peakedness” of a particular presentation condition as the relative heights of these two peaks for a perfectly regular pattern constructed using the corresponding dot size, number and spacing. We conducted two psychophysical experiments in which observers judged relative regularity in a 2-alternative forced-choice task. In the first experiment we used a single reference pattern of intermediate regularity and, in the second, Thurstonian scaling of patterns covering the entire range of regularity. In both experiments discriminability was highly correlated with peakedness for a wide range of presentation conditions. This supports the hypothesis that regularity is coded via peakedness of the distribution of responses across scale.

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