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Eccentricity-dependent temporal contrast tuning in human visual cortex measured with fMRI.

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Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 18 Sep 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jan 2019
Pages (from-to)462-474
Early online date20/09/18
Original languageEnglish


Cells in the peripheral retina tend to have higher contrast sensitivity and respond at higher flicker frequencies than those closer to the fovea. Although this predicts increased behavioural temporal contrast sensitivity in the peripheral visual field, this effect is rarely observed in psychophysical experiments. It is unknown how temporal contrast sensitivity is represented across eccentricity within cortical visual field maps and whether such sensitivities reflect the response properties of retinal cells or psychophysical sensitivities. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure contrast sensitivity profiles at four temporal frequencies in five retinotopically-defined visual areas. We also measured population receptive field (pRF) parameters (polar angle, eccentricity, and size) in the same areas. Overall contrast sensitivity, independent of pRF parameters, peaked at 10Hz in all visual areas. In V1, V2, V3, and V3a, peripherally-tuned voxels had higher contrast sensitivity at a high temporal frequency (20Hz), while hV4 more closely reflected behavioural sensitivity profiles. We conclude that our data reflect a cortical representation of the increased peripheral temporal contrast sensitivity that is already present in the retina and that this bias must be compensated later in the cortical visual pathway.

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© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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