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The human visual system preserves the hierarchy of 2-dimensional pattern regularity

Kohler, Peter J and Clarke, Alasdair DF (2021) 'The human visual system preserves the hierarchy of 2-dimensional pattern regularity.' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288 (1955). p. 20211142. ISSN 0962-8452

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Symmetries are present at many scales in images of natural scenes. A large body of literature has demonstrated contributions of symmetry to numerous domains of visual perception. The four fundamental symmetries, reflection, rotation, translation and glide reflection, can be combined in exactly 17 distinct ways. These wallpaper groups represent the complete set of symmetries in 2D images and have recently found use in the vision science community as an ideal stimulus set for studying the perception of symmetries in textures. The goal of the current study is to provide a more comprehensive description of responses to symmetry in the human visual system, by collecting both brain imaging (Steady-State Visual Evoked Potentials measured using high-density EEG) and behavioral (symmetry detection thresholds) data using the entire set of wallpaper groups. This allows us to probe the hierarchy of complexity among wallpaper groups, in which simpler groups are subgroups of more complex ones. We find that this hierarchy is preserved almost perfectly in both behavior and brain activity: A multi-level Bayesian GLM indicates that for most of the 63 subgroup relationships, subgroups produce lower amplitude responses in visual cortex (posterior probability: > 0.95 for 56 of 63) and require longer presentation durations to be reliably detected (posterior probability: > 0.95 for 49 of 63). This systematic pattern is seen only in visual cortex and only in components of the brain response known to be symmetric-specific. Our results show that representations of symmetries in the human brain are precise and rich in detail, and that this precision is reflected in behavior. These findings expand our understanding of symmetry perception, and open up new avenues for research on how fine-grained representations of regular textures contribute to natural vision.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: symmetry; regular textures; steady-state EEG; psychophysics; visual processing
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2021 10:10
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2022 16:19

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