Visual Neuroscience

Research Articles

Basic visual capacities and shape discrimination after lesions of extrastriate area V4 in macaques

William H. Merigana1

a1 Department of Ophthalmology and Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester


lbotenic acid lesions were made in four macaque monkeys in a region of cortical area V4 that corresponds to the lower quadrant of one hemifield. For visual testing, fixation locus was monitoredwith scleral search coils and controlled behaviorally to place test stimuli either in the lesionedquadrant or in a control location in the opposite hemifield. Some basic visual capacities were slightly altered by the lesions; there was a two-fold reduction of luminance contrast sensitivity as well as red-green chromatic contrast sensitivity, both tested with stationary gratings. On the other hand, little or no loss was found when contrast sensitivity for detection or direction discrimination was tested with 10–Hz drifting gratings nor was there a reliable change in visual acuity. Hue and luminance matching were tested with a spatially more complex matching-to-sample task, but monkeys could not learn this task in the visual field locus of a V4 lesion. If previously trained at this locus, performance was not affected by the lesion. In contrast to the small effects on basic visual capabilities, performance on two form discrimination tasks was devastated by V4 lesions. The first involved discriminating the orientation of colinear groups of dots on a background of randomly placed dots. The second involved discriminating the orientation of a group of three line segments surrounded by differently oriented line segments. Some selectivity of the deficitsfor form discrimination was shown by the lack of an effect of the lesions on a global motion discrimination. These results show that while V4 lesions cause only slight disruptions of basic visual capacities, they profoundly disrupt form discriminations.

(Received April 05 1995)

(Accepted May 16 1995)


Reprint requests to: William H. Merigan, Department of Ophthalmology, Box 314, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.