Phase-selective masking with radial frequency contours
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Sensitivity to changes in the shape of a closed-contour figure is affected by surrounding figures (Vision Research 44 (2004) 2815-2823). We examined how between-contour masking depends on radial frequency. Experiment 1 replicated previous studies that found that masking between adjacent radial frequency (RF) patterns was greatest when the two shapes were phase aligned, and that the magnitude of masking declined approximately linearly with increasing phase offsets. In addition, we found that the effect of phase offset on masking was very similar for RFs ranging from 3 to 8, a result that suggests that sensitivity to phase decreases with increasing radial frequency. Experiment 2 tested this idea and found that phase discrimination threshold for single cycles of curvature was approximately proportional to radial frequency. Experiment 3 showed that both curvature maxima and minima contribute to phase dependent masking between RF contours. Together, Experiments 1-3 demonstrate that the strength of phase-dependent masking does not depend on RF, but is related to sensitivity for phase shifts in isolated contours, and is affected by both positive and negative curvature extrema. We discuss these results in relation to properties of curvature sensitive neurons.
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