The role of early visual input in the development of contour interpolation: the case of subjective contours
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We tested the effect of early monocular and binocular deprivation of normal visual input on the development of contour interpolation. Patients deprived from birth by dense central cataracts in one or both eyes, and age-matched controls, discriminated between fat and thin shapes formed by either illusory or luminance-defined contours. Thresholds indicated the minimum amount of curvature (the fatness or thinness) required for discrimination of the illusory shape, providing a measure of the precision of interpolation. The results show that individuals deprived of visual input in one eye, but not those deprived in both eyes, later show deficits in perceptual interpolation. The deficits were shown mostly for weakly supported contours in which interpolation of contours between the inducers was over a large distance relative to the size of the inducers. Deficits shown for the unilateral but not for the bilateral patients point to the detrimental effect of unequal competition between the eyes for cortical connections on the later development of the mechanisms underlying contour interpolation.
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