Human primary visual cortex shows larger population receptive fields for binocular disparity-defined stimuli.
Alvarez I., Hurley SA., Parker AJ., Bridge H.
The visual perception of 3D depth is underpinned by the brain's ability to combine signals from the left and right eyes to produce a neural representation of binocular disparity for perception and behaviour. Electrophysiological studies of binocular disparity over the past 2 decades have investigated the computational role of neurons in area V1 for binocular combination, while more recent neuroimaging investigations have focused on identifying specific roles for different extrastriate visual areas in depth perception. Here we investigate the population receptive field properties of neural responses to binocular information in striate and extrastriate cortical visual areas using ultra-high field fMRI. We measured BOLD fMRI responses while participants viewed retinotopic mapping stimuli defined by different visual properties: contrast, luminance, motion, correlated and anti-correlated stereoscopic disparity. By fitting each condition with a population receptive field model, we compared quantitatively the size of the population receptive field for disparity-specific stimulation. We found larger population receptive fields for disparity compared with contrast and luminance in area V1, the first stage of binocular combination, which likely reflects the binocular integration zone, an interpretation supported by modelling of the binocular energy model. A similar pattern was found in region LOC, where it may reflect the role of disparity as a cue for 3D shape. These findings provide insight into the binocular receptive field properties underlying processing for human stereoscopic vision.