Radial Frequency Analysis of Contour Shapes in the Visual Cortex

Viljami R. Salmela*, Linda Henriksson, Simo Vanni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


Cumulative psychophysical evidence suggests that the shape of closed contours is analysed by means of their radial frequency components (RFC). However, neurophysiological evidence for RFC-based representations is still missing. We investigated the representation of radial frequency in the human visual cortex with functional magnetic resonance imaging. We parametrically varied the radial frequency, amplitude and local curvature of contour shapes. The stimuli evoked clear responses across visual areas in the univariate analysis, but the response magnitude did not depend on radial frequency or local curvature. Searchlight-based, multivariate representational similarity analysis revealed RFC specific response patterns in areas V2d, V3d, V3AB, and IPS0. Interestingly, RFC-specific representations were not found in hV4 or LO, traditionally associated with visual shape analysis. The modulation amplitude of the shapes did not affect the responses in any visual area. Local curvature, SF-spectrum and contrast energy related representations were found across visual areas but without similar specificity for visual area that was found for RFC. The results suggest that the radial frequency of a closed contour is one of the cortical shape analysis dimensions, represented in the early and mid-level visual areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004719
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • human visual cortex
  • brain research


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