SIAM-AMS Proceedings Volume 13 1981
Introduction. About a dozen years ago in the Journal of Physiology, John Robson and Fergus Campbell introduced the notion that the human visual system contains multiple spatial-frequency channels--that is, multiple subsystems working in parallel, each of which is sensitive to a different range of spatial frequencies in visual patterns.
At about the same time, in Psychological Review, Jim Thomas made the closely related point that the existence of visual neurons with different sizes of receptive fields has important implications for pattern vision, and, in Science, Allan Pantle and Bob Sekuler suggested the existence of multiple size-selective channels. Since that time, a tremendous amount of psychophysical and physiological work has been inspired by this theoretical notion that there are multiple channels working in parallel to process visual patterns and that each of these channels is sensitive to a different, narrow band of spatial frequencies. Some people have gone so far as to say that the human visual system does a Fourier analysis of the visual scene.
What I do here is review the history of this multiple-channels model of pattern vision and comment on its current status. Some references will be given here, and the reader can find a more extensive bibliography in Graham [ 1981]. Some of the material here is explained more fully at an intuitive level in Graham [ 1980].
First let me point out that in discussing pattern vision, we ignore many dimensions important to vision--color, time, depth--discussing only monochromatic, unmoving, unchanging, flat patterns. We discuss only the initial visual processing, ignoring the higher-order perceptual or cognitive processes that occur, for example, in reading a pattern of letters on a page. In spite of this
1980 Mathematics Subject Classification Primary 92A25.
© 1981 American Mathematical Society