Contours and Contrast: Responses of Monkey Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Cells to Luminance and Color Figures

Science  19 Feb 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3972, pp. 694-696
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3972.694


The responses of single units in the monkey lateral geniculate nucleus to different portions of figures which differed from their backgrounds in color and brightness were examined. Border enhancement was found in the response to luminance figures but not in the response to color figures. In addition, cells showed border enhancement only in the case of a figure which produced an increment (as opposed to a decrement) in their firing rates. In situations in which very striking brightness contrast is seen perceptually, the cells do not show the corresponding changes in firing rate across the whole pattern. The lateral inhibitory mechanisms found in the retina and geniculate can thus account for luminance border enhancement, but not entirely for simultaneous brightness or color contrast, for which other cortical processes of some sort must be responsible.