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Journal Article

Efficient Coding Theory Predicts a Tilt Aftereffect from Viewing Untilted Patterns

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May, K., & Zhaoping, L. (2016). Efficient Coding Theory Predicts a Tilt Aftereffect from Viewing Untilted Patterns. Current Biology, 26(12), 1571-1576.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-C254-4
The brain is bombarded with a continuous stream of sensory information, but biological limitations on the data-transmission rate require this information to be encoded very efficiently [1]. Li and Atick [2] proposed that the two eyes’ signals are coded efficiently in the brain using mutually decorrelated binocular summation and differencing channels; when a channel is strongly stimulated by the visual input, such that sensory noise is negligible, the channel should undergo temporary desensitization (known as adaptation). To date, the evidence for this theory has been limited [3, 4], and the binocular differencing channel is missing from many models of binocular integration [5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Li and Atick’s theory makes the remarkable prediction that perceived direction of tilt (clockwise or counterclockwise) of a test pattern can be controlled by pre-exposing observers to visual adaptation patterns that are untilted or even have no orientation signal. Here, we confirm this prediction. Each test pattern consisted of different images presented to the two eyes such that the binocular summation and difference signals were tilted in opposite directions, to give ambiguous information about tilt; by selectively desensitizing one or other of the binocular channels using untilted or non-oriented binocular adaptation patterns, we controlled the perceived tilt of the test pattern. Our results provide compelling evidence that the brain contains binocular summation and differencing channels that adapt to the prevailing binocular statistics.