Single unit recording studies show that perceptual decisions are often based on the output of sensory neurons that are maximally responsive (or "tuned") to relevant stimulus features. However, when performing a difficult discrimination between two highly similar stimuli, perceptual decisions should instead be based on the activity of neurons tuned away from the relevant feature (off-channel neurons) as these neurons undergo a larger firing rate change and are thus more informative. To test this hypothesis, we measured feature-selective responses in human primary visual cortex (V1) using functional magnetic resonance imaging and show that the degree of off-channel activation predicts performance on a difficult visual discrimination task. Moreover, this predictive relationship between off-channel activation and perceptual acuity is not simply the result of extensive practice with a specific stimulus feature (as in studies of perceptual learning). Instead, relying on the output of the most informative sensory neurons may represent a general, and optimal, strategy for efficiently computing perceptual decisions.