Behavioral studies of local stereopsis and disparity vergence in monkeys

Ronald S. Harwerth, Earl L. Smith, John Siderov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Investigations on macaque monkeys have provided much of our knowledge of the neural mechanisms of binocular vision, but there is little psychophysical data on the accuracy of vergence responses or the precision of stereoscopic depth perception in these primates. We have conducted comparative behavioral studies of binocular disparity processing in rhesus monkeys and humans via measurements of prism-induced fixation disparities (disparity vergence) and relative depth discrimination for spatially localized stimuli (local stereopsis). The results of these studies demonstrated a remarkable similarity in both the oculomotor and the sensory aspects of binocular vision in the two species when the stimulus dimensions were specified in visual angels, which were independent of interocular separation. The disparity vergence functions for the two species revealed fusion responses over the same range of prism-induced vergence and comparable vergence errors for stimuli near their fusional limits. Disparity vergence responses were independent of the spatial frequency of the binocular fusion stimulus. Stereothresholds as a function of the spatial frequency of the difference-of-Gaussian stimuli were of the same form, with equivalent stereoacuities, in monkey and human observers. The presence of substantial vergence errors had only a small effect on the precision of stereoscopic depth perception. We conclude that, after compensation for the differences in the lateral separation of their eyes, the operating characteristics of disparity vergence and stereoscopic vision are virtually identical in rhesus monkeys and humans and, consequently, the performance limits for these visual functions must be determined by anatomical and/or neural constraints that are similar in both species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1770
Number of pages16
JournalVision Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes


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