Electrophysiological measurement of the effect of inter-stimulus competition on early cortical stages of human vision

Claire E. Miller, Kimron L. Shapiro, Steven J. Luck

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Competition between inputs in early visual cortex has been established as a key determinant in perception through decades of animal single cell and human fMRI research. We developed a novel ERP paradigm allowing this competition to be studied in humans, affording an opportunity to gain further insight into how competition is reflected at the neural level. Checkerboard stimuli were presented to elicit C1 (indexing processing in V1), C2 (hypothesized to reflect V1 after extrastriate feedback), and P1 (extrastriate) components. Stimuli were presented in three randomized conditions: single stimulus, near proximity pairs and far proximity pairs. Importantly, near stimuli (0.16° visual angle apart) were positioned to compete in primary visual cortex, whereas far stimuli (2° apart) were positioned to compete in extrastriate visual areas.

As predicted, the degree and spatial range of competition increased from the C1 component to the C2 and P1 components. Specifically, competitive interactions in C1 amplitude were modest and present only for near-proximity pairs, whereas substantial competition was present for the P1, even for far-proximity pairs. To our knowledge, this is the first study to measure how competition unfolds over time in human visual cortex. Importantly, this method provides an empirical means of measuring competitive interactions at specific stages of visual processing, rendering it possible to rigorously test predictions about the effects of competition on perception, attention, and working memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Early online date22 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2015


  • Event-related potential
  • Vision
  • Competition
  • C1
  • P1


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