Adaptation to a spatial impulse: Implications for Fourier transform models of visual processing

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Spatial frequency adaptation was analyzed in terms of three representative models of the Fourier transform theory of visual processing. Each model predicted that subjects who exhibited normal sine-wave grating adaptation should show substantial adaptation over a wide range of spatial frequencies following exposure to a narrow bar of high luminance (one-dimensional spatial impulse). In the experiments, two highly practiced subjects who showed normal sine-wave adaptation, showed little adaptation to a 140 cd/m2 bar subtending 0.6', superimposed on a background of 4.63 cd/m2 subtending 1.75°. Two control experiments with a third subject indicated that neither a photoreceptor nonlinearity nor a power function transformation of the luminance distribution could account for the discrepancy. The lack of adaptation to the spatial impulse suggests that present Fourier transform models which postulate phase-independent frequency channels in the visual system are inadequate for the description of the visual response to suprathreshold aperiodic stimuli. A receptive field model of spatial frequency processing and phase encoding is suggested to account for the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1407-1418
Number of pages12
JournalVision Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


  • Fourier transform
  • phase
  • receptive field
  • sine-wave grating
  • spatial frequency adaptation
  • spatial impulses

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