Evidence for a neural mechanism that encodes angles

D. Regan, R. Gray, S. J. Hamstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We measured the discrimination threshold (Δθ)Th for angle θ, where θ was either the angle of a Vee composed of two straight lines contained within the frontoparallel plane or the angle of intersection of two straight lines contained within the frontoparallel plane. The two-line pattern was rotated bodily through a random angle between trials with the aim of eliminating the absolute orientation of one or the other line as a reliable cue to the task. We report evidence that this aim was achieved. Our main conclusion is that the ability to discriminate a change in angle θ cannot entirely be explained in terms of the ability to discriminate changes in the orientations of the individual lines that comprise the Vee. We propose that the human visual pathway contains a neural mechanism that encodes the difference in the orientations of two simultaneously-presented straight lines. Discrimination threshold for angle (Δθ)Th is roughly twice orientation discrimination threshold for an isolated line. When subjects cannot use the orientation of one or another line as a cue to the task, the plot of (Δθ)Th vs θ is approximately flat between θ = 20 and 160 deg.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalVision Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Angle discrimination
  • Chevron
  • Hyperacuity
  • Orientation discrimination
  • Spatial vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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