Abstract

A substantial proportion of neurons in the striate and prestriate cortex of monkeys have stereoscopic properties; that is, they respond differentially to binocular stimuli that are known in humans to provide cues for stereoscopic depth perception. Stereoscopic neurons, as these cells may be called, are selective for horizontal positional disparity (i.e., display disparity selectivity) and for the textural correlation between images over their receptive fields (i.e., they show correlation selectivity). Many neurons have tuned disparity response profiles that collectively cover the entire range of physiological disparities. Neurons with peak responses at or about the zero disparity (“tuned zero neurons,” excitatory or inhibitory) have narrow and symmetrical profiles. Neurons that are tuned to larger disparities, either crossed (“tuned near neurons”) or uncrossed (“tuned far neurons”), have broader excitatory profiles that are asymmetrically wider toward the smaller disparities, and commonly include an inhibitory component about the zero disparity. Other stereoscopic neurons have reciprocal profiles (“near” or “far” neurons, respectively) in the sense that they respond with excitation to crossed or uncrossed disparities, and with suppression to disparities of opposite sign. Stereoscopic neurons can also signal the textural correlation between paired retinal images by giving different responses to random-dot patterns that have, and to those that do not have, the same dot distribution over the neuron's left and right receptive fields. Tuned-zero excitatory neurons characteristically respond to uncorrelation with suppression; tuned-zero inhibitory neurons, with excitation; and both types give the opposite responses to correlated stereopatterns. Neurons selective for nonzero disparities, both tuned and reciprocal, also give excitatory responses to uncorrelated stimuli, but these responses are smaller and more variable than those evoked by correlated patterns at the effective disparities. These findings suggest that stereoscopic neurons in the visual cortex of the macaque comprise three operational systems: (1) a zero-disparity system that is involved in fine depth discrimination with the obligatory singleness of vision, and the maintenance of vergence; and (2) a near-, and (3) a far-disparity system that together signal qualitative estimates of depth with double vision, and vergence responses to large disparities.

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