N-methyl D-aspartate receptor hypofunction reduces visual contextual integration

Alexander Schielke, Bart Krekelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Visual cognition is finely tuned to the elements in a scene but also relies on contextual integration to improve visual detection and discrimination. This integration is impaired in patients with schizophrenia. Studying impairments in contextual integration may lead to biomarkers of schizophrenia, tools to monitor disease progression, and, in animal models, insight into the underlying neural deficits. We developed a nonhuman primate model to test the hypothesis that hypofunction of the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) impairs contextual integration. Two male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were trained to indicate which of two patterns on the screen had the highest contrast. One of these patterns appeared in isolation, and the other was surrounded by a high-contrast pattern. In humans, this high-contrast context is known to lead to an underestimation of contrast. This so-called Chubb illusion is thought to result from surround suppression, a key contextual integration mechanism. To test the involvement of NMDAR in this process, we compared animals’ perceptual bias with and without intramuscular injections of a subanesthetic dose of the NMDAR antagonist ketamine. In the absence of ketamine, the animals reported a Chubb illusion - matching reports in healthy humans. Hence, monkeys - just like humans - perform visual contextual integration. This reaffirms the importance of nonhuman primates to help understand visual cognition. Injection of ketamine significantly reduced the strength of the illusion and thus impaired contextual integration. This supports the hypothesis that NMDAR hypofunction plays a causal role in specific behavioral impairments observed in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'N-methyl D-aspartate receptor hypofunction reduces visual contextual integration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this