Laminar Cortical Dynamics of 3D Surface Perception: Stratification, transparency, and Neon Color Spreading
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How does the laminar organization of cortical circuitry in areas VI and V2 give rise to 3D percepts of stratification, transparency, and neon color spreading in response to 2D pictures and 3D scenes? Psychophysical experiments have shown that such 3D percepts are sensitive to whether contiguous image regions have the same relative contrast polarity (dark-light or lightdark), yet long-range perceptual grouping is known to pool over opposite contrast polarities. The ocularity of contiguous regions is also critical for neon color spreading: Having different ocularity despite the contrast relationship that favors neon spreading blocks the spread. In addition, half visible points in a stereogram can induce near-depth transparency if the contrast relationship favors transparency in the half visible areas. It thus seems critical to have the whole contrast relationship in a monocular configuration, since splitting it between two stereogram images cancels the effect. What adaptive functions of perceptual grouping enable it to both preserve sensitivity to monocular contrast and also to pool over opposite contrasts? Aspects of cortical development, grouping, attention, perceptual learning, stereopsis and 3D planar surface perception have previously been analyzed using a 3D LAMINART model of cortical areas VI, V2, and V4. The present work consistently extends this model to show how like-polarity competition between VI simple cells in layer 4 may be combined with other LAMINART grouping mechanisms, such as cooperative pooling of opposite polarities at layer 2/3 complex cells. The model also explains how the Metelli Rules can lead to transparent percepts, how bistable transparency percepts can arise in which either surface can be perceived as transparent, and how such a transparency reversal can be facilitated by an attention shift. The like-polarity inhibition prediction is consistent with lateral masking experiments in which two f1anking Gabor patches with the same contrast polarity as the target increase the target detection threshold when they approach the target. It is also consistent with LAMINART simulations of cortical development. Other model explanations and testable predictions will also be presented.