Population receptive field (pRF) measurements of chromatic responses in human visual cortex using fMRI

Lauren E Welbourne, Antony Morland, Alex Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spatial sensitivity of the human visual system depends on stimulus color: achromatic gratings can be resolved at relatively high spatial frequencies while sensitivity to isoluminant color contrast tends to be more low-pass. Models of early spatial vision often assume that the receptive field size of pattern-sensitive neurons is correlated with their spatial frequency sensitivity - larger receptive fields are typically associated with lower optimal spatial frequency. A strong prediction of this model is that neurons coding isoluminant chromatic patterns should have, on average, a larger receptive field size than neurons sensitive to achromatic patterns. Here, we test this assumption using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We show that while spatial frequency sensitivity depends on chromaticity in the manner predicted by behavioral measurements, population receptive field (pRF) size measurements show no such dependency. At any given eccentricity, the mean pRF size for neuronal populations driven by luminance, opponent red/green and S-cone isolating contrast, are identical. Changes in pRF size (for example, an increase with eccentricity and visual area hierarchy) are also identical across the three chromatic conditions. These results suggest that fMRI measurements of receptive field size and spatial resolution can be decoupled under some circumstances - potentially reflecting a fundamental dissociation between these parameters at the level of neuronal populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

© Elsevier B.V., 2017.


  • Journal Article

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