Cross-fixation interactions of orientations suggest high-to-low-level decoding in visual working memory

Long Luu, Mingsha Zhang, Misha Tsodyks, and Ning Qian, Visioin Research, 2022, Download the full paper (PDF file)


Sensory encoding (how stimuli evoke sensory responses) is known to progress from low- to high-level features. Decoding (how responses lead to perception) is less understood but is often assumed to follow the same hierarchy. Accordingly, orientation decoding must occur in low-level areas such as V1, without cross-fixation interactions. However, Ding et al (2017) provided evidence against the assumption and proposed that visual decoding may often follow a high-to-low-level hierarchy in working memory, where higher-to-lower-level constraints introduce interactions among lower-level features. If two orientations on opposite sides of the fixation are both task relevant and enter working memory, then they should interact with each other. We indeed found the predicted cross-fixation interactions (repulsion and correlation) between orientations. Control experiments and analyses ruled out alternative explanations such as reporting bias and adaptation across trials on the same side of the fixation. Moreover, we explained the data using Ding et al's retrospective high-to-low-level Bayesian decoding framework.

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