A physiological theory of depth perception from vertical disparity

Nestor Matthews, Xin Meng, Peng Xu, and Ning Qian, Vision Research 2003, 43:85-99.
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It has been known since the time of Helmholtz that vertical differences between the two retinal images can generate depth perception. Although many ecologically and geometrically inspired theories have been proposed, the neural mechanisms underlying the phenomenon remain elusive. Here we propose a new theory for depth perception from vertical disparity based on the oriented binocular receptive fields of visual cortical cells and on the radial bias of the preferred-orientation distribution in the cortex. The theory suggests that oriented cells may treat a vertical disparity as a weaker, equivalent horizontal disparity. It explains the induced effect, and the quadrant- and size-dependence of vertical disparity. It predicts that horizontal and vertical disparities should locally enhance or cancel each other according to their depth-signs, and that the effect of vertical disparity should be orientation dependent. These predictions were confirmed through psychophysical experiments.

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