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      Interview with Lothar Spillmann

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      European Yearbook of the History of Psychology
      Brepols Publishers

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          Stabilized images on the retina.

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            Receptive fields of visual neurons: the early years.

            This paper traces the history of the visual receptive field (RF) from Hartline to Hubel and Wiesel. Hartline (1938, 1940) found that an isolated optic nerve fiber in the frog could be excited by light falling on a small circular area of the retina. He called this area the RF, using a term first introduced by Sherrington (1906) in the tactile domain. In 1953 Kuffler discovered the antagonistic center-surround organization of cat RFs, and Barlow, Fitzhugh, and Kuffler (1957) extended this work to stimulus size and state of adaptation. Shortly thereafter, Lettvin and colleagues (1959) in an iconic paper asked "what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain". Meanwhile, Jung and colleagues (1952-1973) searched for the perceptual correlates of neuronal responses, and Jung and Spillmann (1970) proposed the term perceptive field (PF) as a psychophysical correlate of the RF. The Westheimer function (1967) enabled psychophysical measurements of the PF center and surround in human and monkey, which correlated closely with the underlying RF organization. The sixties and seventies were marked by rapid progress in RF research. Hubel and Wiesel (1959-1974), recording from neurons in the visual cortex of the cat and monkey, found elongated RFs selective for the shape, orientation, and position of the stimulus, as well as for movement direction and ocularity. These findings prompted the emergence in visual psychophysics of the concept of feature detectors selective for lines, bars, and edges, and contributed to a model of the RF in terms of difference of Gaussians (DOG) and Fourier channels. The distinction between simple, complex, and hypercomplex neurons followed. Although RF size increases towards the peripheral retina, its cortical representation remains constant due to the reciprocal relationship with the cortical magnification factor (M). This constitutes a uniform yardstick for M-scaled stimuli across the retina. Developmental studies have shown that RF properties are not fixed. RFs possess their full response inventory already at birth, but require the interaction with appropriate stimuli within a critical time window for refinement and consolidation. Taken together these findings paved the way for a better understanding of how objective properties of the external world are encoded to become subjective properties of the subjective, perceptual world.
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              Phenomenology and neurophysiological correlations: two approaches to perception research.

              This article argues that phenomenological description and neurophysiological correlation complement each other in perception research. Whilst phenomena constitute the material, neuronal mechanisms are indispensable for their explanation. Numerous examples of neurophysiological correlates show that the correlation of phenomenology and neurophysiology is fruitful. Phenomena for which neuronal mechanism have been found include: (in area V1) filling-in of real and artificial scotomata, contour integration, figure-ground segregation by orientation contrast, amodal completion, and motion transparency; (in V2) modal completion, border ownership, surface transparency, and cyclopean perception; (in V3) alignment in dotted contours, and filling-in with dynamic texture; (in V4) colour constancy; (in MT) shape by accretion/deletion, grouping by coherent motion, apparent motion in motion quartets, motion in apertures, and biological motion. Results suggest that in monkey visual cortex, occlusion cues, including stereo depth, are predominantly processed in lower areas, whereas mechanisms for grouping and motion are primarily represented in higher areas. More correlations are likely to emerge as neuroscientists strive for a better understanding of visual perception. The paper concludes with a review of major achievements in visual neuroscience pertinent to the study of the phenomena under consideration.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                EYHP
                eyhp
                European Yearbook of the History of Psychology
                Brepols Publishers
                2295-5267
                2507-0304
                January 2018
                : 4
                : 237-266
                Article
                10.1484/J.EYHP.5.116303
                63b8dc57-12c8-45b4-8943-e120eb3fd10e
                Product
                Self URI (journal page): https://www.brepolsonline.net/loi/eyhp

                Psychology,Anthropology,Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                Psychology, Anthropology, Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

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