The processing of compound radial frequency patterns

Gunnar Schmidtmann*, Frederick A.A. Kingdom, Gunter Loffler

*Corresponding author for this work

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Radial frequency (RF) patterns can be combined to construct complex shapes. Previous studies have suggested that such complex shapes may be encoded by multiple, narrowly-tuned RF shape channels. To test this hypothesis, thresholds were measured for detection and discrimination of various combinations of two RF components. Results show evidence of summation: sensitivity for the compounds was better than that for the components, with little effect of the components’ relative phase. If both RF components are processed separately at the point of detection, they would combine by probability summation (PS), resulting in only a small increase in sensitivity for the compound compared to the components. Summation exceeding the prediction of PS suggests a form of additive summation (AS) by a common mechanism. Data were compared to predictions of winner-take-all, where only the strongest component contributes to detection, a single channel AS model, and multi-channel PS and AS models. The multi-channel PS and AS models were modelled under both Fixed and Matched Attention Window scenarios, the former assuming a single internal noise source for both components and compounds or different internal noise sources for components and compounds respectively. The winner-take-all and single channel models could be rejected. Of the remaining models, the best performing one was an AS model with a Fixed Attention Window, consistent with detection being mediated by channels that are efficiently combined and limited by a single source of noise for both components and compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
Number of pages12
JournalVision Research
Early online date27 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Additive summation
  • Probability summation
  • Radial frequency patterns
  • Shape channels
  • Summation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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