Visual Neuroscience



Cortical area V4 is critical for certain texture discriminations, but this effect is not dependent on attention


WILLIAM H.  MERIGAN a1c1
a1 Department of Ophthalmology and Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester

Abstract

This study examined the question of which features of a complex grouping discrimination make it vulnerable to permanent elimination by V4 lesions. We first verified that the line element grouping discrimination, which we previously reported to be devastated by V4 lesions, was similarly affected in the monkeys of this study. The permanence of the deficit was established by mapping its visual field distribution and then testing this discrimination for an extended period at a locus on the border of the deficit. Also, a staircase procedure was used to provide the monkey with within session instruction in the grouping discrimination, but this did not improve V4 lesion performance. Grouping was then compared with several discriminations that shared some features with it, but which were found not to be permanently eliminated by V4 lesions. This comparison suggested that grouping (rather than segmentation or response to a single element) was one feature that made the discrimination vulnerable, a second was the similarity in shape of the texture elements to be grouped. Finally, we tested visual crowding, a property of peripheral vision that is thought to reflect neuronal interactions early in visual cortex, possibly in area V1, and found no effect of V4 lesions. A control experiment with human observers tested whether the elimination of grouping by V4 lesions might be due to an alteration of attention, but found no evidence to support this hypothesis. These results show that severe disruption of texture discriminations by V4 lesions depends on both the nature of the discrimination and the type of texture elements involved, but does not necessarily involve the disruption of attention.

(Received December 29 1999)
(Accepted July 27 2000)


Key Words: Grouping; Texture segmentation; Area V4; Macaque.

Correspondence:
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: William H. Merigan, Department of Ophthalmology, Box 314, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. E-mail: billm@cvs.rochester.edu