Neural bandwidth of veridical perception across the visual field

Michael O Wilkinson, Roger S Anderson, Arthur Bradley, Larry N Thibos

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39 Citations (Scopus)
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Neural undersampling of the retinal image limits the
range of spatial frequencies that can be represented
veridically by the array of retinal ganglion cells conveying
visual information from eye to brain. Our goal was to
demarcate the neural bandwidth and local anisotropy of
veridical perception, unencumbered by optical
imperfections of the eye, and to test competing
hypotheses that might account for the results. Using
monochromatic interference fringes to stimulate the
retina with high-contrast sinusoidal gratings, we
measured sampling-limited visual resolution along eight
meridians from 08 to 508 of eccentricity. The resulting
isoacuity contour maps revealed all of the expected
features of the human array of retinal ganglion cells.
Contours in the radial fringe maps are elongated
horizontally, revealing the functional equivalent of the
anatomical visual streak, and are extended into nasal
retina and superior retina, indicating higher resolution
along those meridians. Contours are larger in diameter
for radial gratings compared to tangential or oblique
gratings, indicating local anisotropy with highest
bandwidth for radially oriented gratings. Comparison of
these results to anatomical predictions indicates acuity is
proportional to the sampling density of retinal ganglion
cells everywhere in the retina. These results support the
long-standing hypothesis that ‘‘pixel density’’ of the
discrete neural image carried by the human optic nerve
limits the spatial bandwidth of veridical perception at all
retinal locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 29 Jan 2016


  • visual resolution
  • peripheral vision
  • aliasing
  • neural sampling


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