Mechanisms of purely subjective contour tilt aftereffects

Rick Van Der Zwan, Peter Wenderoth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Neurones tuned for second-order stimuli-those which have edges defined by properties other than luminance and colour-have been frequently observed in prestriate cortex and in area V2 there are neurones which explicitly and unambiguously signal the orientation of purely subjective contours, i.e. contours with no Fourier components at the orientation of the perceived edge [von der Heydt, R. & Peterhans, E. (1989) Journal of Neuroscience, 9, 1731-1748]. No neurones in area V1 showed similar tuning characteristics. In addition, it has been demonstrated that like real contours, purely subjective test contours are subject to tilt aftereffects following prolonged viewing of an adapting stimulus, whether that stimulus is real or subjective [Paradiso, M. A., Shimojo, S. & Nakayama, K. (1989) Vision Research, 29, 1205-1213]. This result supports the assertion that the cortical processes responsible for real contour perception are also those giving rise to subjective contour perception. The data reported here further examined this hypothesis. Four experiments show that purely subjective contours exhibit both direct and indirect tilt aftereffects and tilt illusions like those observed with real contours. Further, they provide evidence that direct and indirect subjective contour effects, like direct and indirect real contour effects, arise via the operation of two mechanisms: a low level process, possibly lateral inhibition between orientation channels, and a second "higher-order" process. The data suggest that processing of orientation information beyond the striate cortex is similar to that which occurs in area V1 and the data are consistent with models of contour processing which assume that all perceived contours, both real and subjective, arise from a common mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2547-2557
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Direct effect
  • Indirect effect
  • Orientation
  • Subjective contours
  • Tilt aftereffect
  • Tilt illusion
  • V2

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