We show that true colors as defined by Chevreul (1839) produce unsuspected simultaneous brightness induction effects on their immediate grey backgrounds when these are placed on a darker (black) general background surrounding two spatially separated configurations. Assimilation and apparent contrast may occur in one and the same stimulus display. We examined the possible link between these effects and the perceived depth of the color patterns which induce them as a function of their luminance contrast. Patterns of square-shaped inducers of a (...) single color (red, green, blue, yellow, or grey) were placed on background fields of a lighter and a darker grey, presented on a darker screen. Inducers were always darker on one side of the display and brighter on the other in a given trial. The intensity of the grey backgrounds varied between trials only. This permitted generating four inducer luminance contrasts, presented in random order, for each color. Background fields were either spatially separated or consisted of a single grey field on the black screen. Experiments were run under three environmental conditions: dark-adaptation, daylight, and rod-saturation after exposure to bright light. In a first task, we measured probabilities of contrast, assimilation, and no effect in a three-alternative forced-choice procedure (background appears brighter on the ‘left’, on the ‘right’ or the ‘same’). Visual adaptation and inducer contrast had no significant influence on the induction effects produced by colored inducers. Achromatic inducers produced significantly stronger contrast effects after dark-adaptation, and significantly stronger assimilation in daylight conditions. Grouping two backgrounds into a single one was found to significantly decrease probabilities of apparent contrast. Under the same conditions, we measured probabilities of the inducers to be perceived as nearer to the observer inducers. These, as predicted by Chevreul’s law of contrast, were determined by the luminance contrast of the inducers only, with significantly higher probabilities of brighter inducers to be seen as nearer, and a marked asymmetry between effects produced by inducers of opposite sign. Implications of these findings for theories which attempt to link simultaneous induction effects to the relative depth of object surfaces in the visual field are discussed. (shrink)
Poorly saturated colors are closer to a pure grey than strongly saturated ones and, therefore, appear less “colorful”. Color saturation is effectively manipulated in the visual arts for balancing conflicting sensations and moods and for inducing the perception of relative distance in the pictorial plane. While perceptual science has proven quite clearly that the luminance contrast of any hue acts as a self-sufficient cue to relative depth in visual images, the role of color saturation in such figure-ground organization has remained (...) unclear. We presented configurations of colored inducers on grey ‘test’ backgrounds to human observers. Luminance and saturation of the inducers was uniform on each trial, but varied across trials. We ran two separate experimental tasks. In the relative background brightness task, perceptual judgments indicated whether the apparent brightness of the grey test background contrasted with, assimilated to, or appeared equal (no effect) to that of a comparison background with the same luminance contrast. Contrast polarity and its interaction with color saturation affected response proportions for contrast, assimilation and no effect. In the figure-ground task, perceptual judgments indicated whether the inducers appeared to lie in front of, behind, or in the same depth with the background. Strongly saturated inducers produced significantly larger proportions of foreground effects indicating that these inducers stand out as figure against the background. Weakly saturated inducers produced significantly larger proportions of background effects, indicating that these inducers are perceived as lying behind the backgrounds. We infer that color saturation modulates figure-ground organization, both directly by determining relative inducer depth, and indirectly, and in interaction with contrast polarity, by affecting apparent background brightness. The results point towards a hitherto undocumented functional role of color saturation in the genesis of form, and in particular figure-ground percepts in the absence of chromatostereopsis. (shrink)
The laws which predict how the perceptual quality of figure-ground can be extracted from the most elementary visual signals were discovered by the Gestaltists, and form an essential part of their movement (see especially Metzger, 1930, and Wertheimer, 1923 translated and re-edited by Lothar Spillmann, 2009 and 2012, respectively). Distinguishing figure from ground is a prerequisite for perception of both form and space (the relative positions, trajectories, and distances of objects in the visual field. The human brain has an astonishing (...) capacity for selecting and combining a few critical visual signals to accurately represent both form and space. (shrink)
Victor Vasarely's (1906–1997) important legacy to the study of human perception is brought to the forefront and discussed. A large part of his impressive work conveys the appearance of striking three-dimensional shapes and structures in a large-scale pictorial plane. Current perception science explains such effects by invoking brain mechanisms for the processing of monocular (2D) depth cues. Here in this study, we illustrate and explain local effects of 2D color and contrast cues on the perceptual organization in terms of figure-ground (...) assignments, i.e. which local surfaces are likely to be seen as “nearer” or “bigger” in the image plane. Paired configurations are embedded in a larger, structurally ambivalent pictorial context inspired by some of Vasarely's creations. The figure-ground effects these configurations produce reveal a significant correlation between perceptual solutions for “nearer” and “bigger” when other geometric depth cues are missing. In consistency with previous findings on similar, albeit simpler visual displays, a specific color may compete with luminance contrast to resolve the planar ambiguity of a complex pattern context at a critical point in the hierarchical resolution of figure-ground uncertainty. The potential role of color temperature in this process is brought forward here. Vasarely intuitively understood and successfully exploited the subtle context effects accounted for in this paper, well before empirical investigation had set out to study and explain them in terms of information processing by the visual brain. (shrink)
The “Perky effect” is the interference of visual imagery with vision. Studies of this effect show that visual imagery has more than symbolic properties, but these properties differ both spatially (including “pictorially”) and temporally from those of vision. We therefore reject both the literal picture-in-the-head view and the entirely symbolic view.
The 18th-century Scottish ‘common sense’ philosopher Thomas Reid argued that perception can be distinguished on several dimensions from other categories of experience, such as sensation, illusion, hallucination, mental images, and what he called ‘fancy.’ We extend his approach to eleven mental categories, and discuss how these distinctions, often ignored in the empirical literature, bear on current research. We also score each category on five properties (ones abstracted from Reid) to form a 5 × 11 matrix, and thus can generate statistical (...) measures of their mutual dependencies, a procedure that may have general interest as illustrating what we can call ‘computational philosophy.’. (shrink)
Less salient, lower contrast disks appear to be more numerous than more salient, higher contrast disks when intermingled in equal numbers into the same display, but they are equal in perceived numerosity when segregated into different displays. Comparative judgements indicate that the apparent numerosity of the lower contrast disks is unaffected by being intermingled with high contrast disks, whereas the high contrast disks are reduced in numerosity by being intermingled with the low contrast ones. Here, we report that this illusion (...) also occurs for absolute judgements of the numerosities of displays of from 20 to 80 disks. A model based on luminance-difference contrast normalization explains the illusory loss of high-contrast items along with veridical perception of the low-contrast ones. The model correctly predicts that perceived numerosity is linearly related to the square-root of the number of disks, with the extent of the illusion depending on an attentionally-weighted function of contrast and assimilation. (shrink)