Temporal Summation Phenomena at Threshold: Their Relation to Visual Mechanisms

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Science  09 Oct 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3954, pp. 197-199
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3954.197


Threshold energies were determined for brief flashes as a function of their duration in order to determine the maximum duration for which the flash intensity and duration could be varied reciprocally without affecting detectability (the Bunsen-Roscoe effect). A pair of threshold-level flashes for which reciprocity obtained in the determination of threshold were shown to be discriminable from each other at several imperfectly detectable energy levels. Thus equal detectability of flashes of equal energy does not imply identical neural responses to such stimuli. It is suggested that the summation reflects primarily the operation of the detection mechanism rather than of the peripheral visual mechanism. Some general implications for the interpretation of threshold measures are also discussed.