Abstract

The human constrast-discrimination function has a curious shape: In addition to rising for increasing contrasts, both positive and negative, it also rises for very low contrasts on either side of zero. It is shown that this rise near zero contrast is not much affected by procedures that increase or decrease the subject’s knowledge of the stimulus; this counts against uncertainty as the immediate cause of the elevation near zero contrast. The alternative explanation in terms of a genuine response threshold is shown to be promising when measurements of human contrast discrimination are compared with values calculated from records of neurons in monkey primary visual cortex. The comparison also suggests that the dynamic range of single neurons is lower than that shown psychophysically. It is suggested that having a cortical threshold may be the visual system’s way of preventing false positives when there is much stimulus uncertainty. This threshold may also help to explain why quantum efficiencies calculated from detection thresholds are so poor compared with those estimated from the visual system’s susceptibility to added noise.

© 1987 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article
OSA Recommended Articles
Capabilities of monkey cortical cells in spatial-resolution tasks

Andrew Parker and Mike Hawken
J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 2(7) 1101-1114 (1985)

Monkey contrast threshold for aperiodic patterns*

Thomas H. Harding and J. Terry Yates
J. Opt. Soc. Am. 66(2) 131-138 (1976)

Motion thresholds can be predicted from contrast discrimination

Bettina L. Beard, Stanley A. Klein, and Thom Carney
J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 14(9) 2449-2470 (1997)

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (7)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Tables (1)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article tables are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (1)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription