Abstract

Human early visual cortex has long been suggested to play a crucial role in context-dependent visual size perception through either lateral interaction or feedback projections from higher to lower visual areas. We investigated the causal contribution of early visual cortex to context-dependent visual size perception using the technique of transcranial direct current stimulation and two well-known size illusions (i.e., the Ebbinghaus and Ponzo illusions) and further elucidated the underlying mechanism that mediates the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation over early visual cortex. The results showed that the magnitudes of both size illusions were significantly increased by anodal stimulation relative to sham stimulation but left unaltered by cathodal stimulation. Moreover, the anodal effect persisted even when the central target and surrounding inducers of the Ebbinghaus configuration were presented to different eyes, with the effect lasting no more than 15 min. These findings provide compelling evidence that anodal occipital stimulation enhances the perceived visual size illusions, which is possibly mediated by weakening the suppressive function of the feedback connections from higher to lower visual areas. Moreover, the current study provides further support for the causal role of early visual cortex in the neural processing of context-dependent visual size perception.

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