The functional benefits of tilt adaptation

Árni Kristjánsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Many have argued that effects of adaptation, such as aftereffects from motion or tilt, reflect that the visual system hones its responses in on the characteristics of the adapting stimulus. This view entails that on average, the discrimination of the characteristics of an adapting stimulus should become easier as viewing time increases since the variation in the response gradually adapts to the range and variation in the stimulus. Here this was tested for adaptation to tilt. Observers viewed a Gabor patch which varied in contrast from 0 to 74% at a rate of 0.6 Hz, for 4, 8, 16 or 32 s, after which the Gabor patch changed orientation (at the point when contrast was 0). The results show that the longer the observers adapt to the dynamic Gabor, the better they become at discriminating between clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW) changes in tilt (orientation) of the same patch. Experiment 2 confirms that both the direct and indirect tilt aftereffects are seen with this contrast varying Gabor patch and Experiment 3 shows that the aftereffects are only slightly smaller than in other studies with stimuli such as lines and sinusoidal gratings. These results show that adaptation to tilt leads to better discrimination around the orientation of the adapting stimulus itself, and that discrimination performance improves steadily with increased adaptation time. The results support proposals that the visual system adjusts its response characteristics to the properties of the visual input at a given time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalSeeing and Perceiving
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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