Predicting the motion after-effect from sensitivity loss

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The widely accepted disinhibition theory of the motion after-effect (MAE) proposes that the balance point of an opponent mechanism is changed by directional adaptation. To see if the post-adaptation balance point could be predicted from contrast adaptation, we measured threshold-vs-contrast (i.e., T-vs-C or dipper) functions, before and after adaptation to moving gratings. For test stimuli moving in the same direction, adaptation shifted the point of maximum facilitation (i.e., the dip) upwards and rightwards. For tests moving in the opposite direction, adaptation produced a similar, but smaller, shift. These shifts are consistent with a change in divisive gain control. They are also consistent with subtractive inhibition followed by half-wave rectification. We attempted to use transducer functions derived from these data to predict the strength of the MAE. When combined, gratings moving in the adapted and opposite directions appeared perfectly balanced (i.e., counterphasing) when the latter was given approximately 2% more contrast than was predicted on the basis of the derived transducers. This small under-prediction may be indicative of sensory recalibration. Finally, we found that adaptation did not alter the fact that low-contrast stimuli could be detected and their direction identified with similar accuracy. We conclude that both static and dynamic forms of MAE are primarily caused by a decreased sensitivity in directionally tuned mechanisms, as proposed by the disinhibition theory. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Morgan, M., Chubb, C., & Solomon, J. A. (2006). Predicting the motion after-effect from sensitivity loss. Vision Research, 46(15), 2412–2420.

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