Numerosity perception in peripheral vision

Li, M. S., Abbatecola, C. , Petro, L. S. and Muckli, L. (2021) Numerosity perception in peripheral vision. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15, 750417. (doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.750417)

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Abstract

Peripheral vision has different functional priorities for mammals than foveal vision. One of its roles is to monitor the environment while central vision is focused on the current task. Becoming distracted too easily would be counterproductive in this perspective, so the brain should react to behaviourally relevant changes. Gist processing is good for this purpose, and it is therefore not surprising that evidence from both functional brain imaging and behavioural research suggests a tendency to generalize and blend information in the periphery. This may be caused by the balance of perceptual influence in the periphery between bottom-up (i.e., sensory information) and top-down (i.e., prior or contextual information) processing channels. Here, we investigated this interaction behaviourally using a peripheral numerosity discrimination task with top-down and bottom-up manipulations. Participants compared numerosity between the left and right peripheries of a screen. Each periphery was divided into a centre and a surrounding area, only one of which was a task relevant target region. Our top-down task modulation was the instruction which area to attend – centre or surround. We varied the signal strength by altering the stimuli durations i.e., the amount of information presented/processed (as a combined bottom-up and recurrent top-down feedback factor). We found that numerosity perceived in target regions was affected by contextual information in neighbouring (but irrelevant) areas. This effect appeared as soon as stimulus duration allowed the task to be reliably performed and persisted even at the longest duration (1 s). We compared the pattern of results with an ideal-observer model and found a qualitative difference in the way centre and surround areas interacted perceptually in the periphery. When participants reported on the central area, the irrelevant surround would affect the response as a weighted combination – consistent with the idea of a receptive field focused in the target area to which irrelevant surround stimulation leaks in. When participants report on surround, we can best describe the response with a model in which occasionally the attention switches from task relevant surround to task irrelevant centre – consistent with a selection model of two competing streams of information. Overall our results show that the influence of spatial context in the periphery is mandatory but task dependent.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Numerosity perception, peripheral vision, spatial integration, computational modelling, psychophysics.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Abbatecola, Dr Clement and Petro, Dr Lucy and Li, Miss Min and Muckli, Professor Lars
Authors: Li, M. S., Abbatecola, C., Petro, L. S., and Muckli, L.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN:1662-5161
ISSN (Online):1662-5161
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Li, Abbatecola, Petro and Muckli
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 15: 750417
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
304518Human Brain Project SGA 2Lars MuckliEuropean Commission (EC)N/ANP - Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi)
307180Human Brain Project SGA_3Lars MuckliEuropean Commission (EC)945539NP - Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi)