Luminance and color are strong and self-sufficient cues to pictorial depth in visual scenes and images. The present study investigates the conditions Under which luminance or color either strengthens or overrides geometric depth cues. We investigated how luminance contrasts associated with color contrast interact with relative height in the visual field, partial occlusion, and interposition in determining the probability that a given figure is perceived as ‘‘nearer’’ than another. Latencies of ‘‘near’’ responses were analyzed to test for effects of attentional (...) selection. Figures in a pair were supported by luminance contrast or isoluminant color contrast and combined with one of the three geometric cues. The results of Experiment 1 show that luminance contrasts associated with hue, when it does not interact with other hues, produces the same effects as achromatic luminance contrasts: The probability of‘‘near’’ increases with luminance contrast while the latencies for ‘‘near’’ responses decrease. Partial occlusion is found to be a strong enough pictorial cue to support a weaker red luminance contrast. Interposition cues lose out against cues of spatial position and partial occlusion. The results of Experiment 2, with isoluminant displays of varying color contrast, reveal that red color contrast on a light background supported by any of the three geometric cues wins over green or white supported by any of the three geometric cues. On a dark background, red color contrast supported by the interposition cue loses out against green or white color contrast supported by partial occlusion. These findings reveal that color is not an independent depth cue, but is strongly influenced by luminance contrast and stimulus geometry. Systematically shorter response latencies for stronger ‘‘near’’ percepts demonstrate that selective visual attention reliably detects the most likely depth cue combination in a given configuration. (shrink)
The experiments reported herein probe the visual cortical mechanisms that control near–far percepts in response to two-dimensional stimuli. Figural contrast is found to be a principal factor for the emergence of percepts of near versus far in pictorial stimuli, especially when stimulus duration is brief. Pictorial factors such as interposition (Experiment 1) and partial occlusion Experiments 2 and 3) may cooperate, as generally predicted by cue combination models, or compete with contrast factors in the manner predicted by the FACADE model. (...) In particular, if the geometrical con guration of an image favors activation of cortical bipole grouping cells, as at the top of a T-junction, then this advantage can cooperate with the contrast of the con guration to facilitate a near–far percept at a lower contrast than at an X-junction. Varying the exposure duration of the stimuli shows that the more balanced bipole competition in the X-junction case takes longer exposure times to resolve than the bipole competition in the T-junction case (Experiment 3). (shrink)
The perceived strength of darkness enhancement in the centre of surfaces surrounded or not surrounded by illusory contours was investigated as a function of proximity of the constituent elements of the display and their angular size. Magnitude estimation was used to measure the perception of the darkness phenomenon in white-on-grey stimuli. Darkness enhancement was perceived in both types of the stimuli used, but more strongly in the presence of illusory contours. In both cases, perceived darkness enhancement increased with increasing proximity (...) of the constituent parts of the display and with their angular size. These results suggest that the occurrence of darkness (or brightness) enhancement phenomena in the centre of the displays is not directly related to illusory contours, which only reinforce the subjective surface brightness/darkness. (shrink)
Light increment thresholds were measured on either side of one of the illusory contours of a white-on-black Kanizsa square and on the illusory contour itself. The data show that thresholds are elevated when measured on either side of the illusory border. These elevations diminish with increasing distance of the target spot from the white elements which induce the illusory figure. The most striking result, however, is that threshold elevations are considerably lower or even absent when the target is located on (...) the illusory contour itself. At an equivalent position in a control figure where no illusory contour is visible, such a threshold decrease does not occur. The present observations add empirical support to neural theories of illusory form perception. (shrink)
Consciousness is known to be limited in processing capacity and often described in terms of a unique processing stream across a single dimension: time. In this paper, we discuss a purely temporal pattern code, functionally decoupled from spatial signals, for conscious state generation in the brain. Arguments in favour of such a code include Dehaene et al.’s long-distance reverberation postulate, Ramachandran’s remapping hypothesis, evidence for a temporal coherence index and coincidence detectors, and Grossberg’s Adaptive Resonance Theory. A time-bin resonance model (...) is developed, where temporal signatures of conscious states are generated on the basis of signal reverberation across large distances in highly plastic neural circuits. The temporal signatures are delivered by neural activity patterns which, beyond a certain statistical threshold, activate, maintain, and terminate a conscious brain state like a bar code would activate, maintain, or inactivate the electronic locks of a safe. Such temporal resonance would reflect a higher level of neural processing, one that is independent from sensorial or perceptual brain mechanisms. (shrink)
Detection thresholds for a small light spot were measured at various distances from the colinear inucer edges of white inducing elements on a dark background. The data show that thresholds are elevated when the target is located close to one or more inducing element(s). Threshold elevations diminish with increasing distance of the target from colinear edges and decreasing surface size of the inducing elements. gradients show the same tendencies. Tbe present observations add empirical support to the idea that illusory figures (...) are determined by local mechanisms that operate at early stages of perceptual information processing and decision. (shrink)
Spatial facilitation has been observed with luminance-defined, achromatic stimuli on achromatic backgrounds as well as with targets and inducers defined by colour contrast. This paper reviews psychophysical results from detection experiments with human observers showing the conditions under which spatially separated contour inducers facilitate the detection of simultaneously presented target stimuli. The findings point towards two types of spatial mechanisms: (i) Short-range mechanisms that are sensitive to narrowly spaced stimuli of small size and, at distinct target locations, selective to the (...) contrast polarity of targets and inducers. (ii) Long-range mechanisms that are triggered by longer stimuli, generate facilitation across wider spatial gaps between targets and inducers, and are insensitive to their contrast polarity. Spatial facilitation with chromatic stimuli requires a longer inducer exposure than spatial facilitation with achromatic stimuli, which is already fully effective at inducer exposures of 30 ms. This difference in temporal dynamics indicates some functional segregation between mechanisms for colour and luminance contrast in the perception of space. (shrink)
This article introduces an experimental paradigm to selectively probe the multiple levels of visual processing that influence the formation of object contours, perceptual boundaries, and illusory contours. The experiments test the assumption that, to integrate contour information across space and contrast sign, a spatially short-range filtering process that is sensitive to contrast polarity inputs to a spatially long-range grouping process that pools signals from opposite contrast polarities. The stimuli consisted of thin subthreshold lines, flashed upon gaps between collinear inducers which (...) potentially enable the formation of illusory contours. The subthreshold lines were composed of one or more segments with opposite contrast polarities. The polarity nearest to the inducers was varied to differentially excite the short-range filtering process. The experimental results are consistent with neurophysiological evidence for cortical mechanisms of contour processing and with the Boundary Contour System model, which identifies the short-range filtering process with cortical simple cells, and the long-range grouping process with cortical bipole cells. (shrink)
How the visual systems of different species enable them to detect and discriminate colour patterns and how such visual abilities contribute to their survival is discussed. The influence of evolutionary and environmental pressures on both perceptual capacity and colour trait production is to be considered. Visual systems with different functional anatomy have evolved in response to such pressures.
The thresholds of human observers detecting line targets improve significantly when the targets are presented in a spatial context of collinear inducing stimuli. This phenomenon is referred to as spatial facilitation, and may reflect the output of long-range interactions between cortical feature detectors. Spatial facilitation has thus far been observed with luminance-defined, achromatic stimuli on achromatic backgrounds. This study compares spatial facilitation with line targets and collinear, edge-like inducers defined by luminance contrast to spatial facilitation with targets and inducers defined (...) by color contrast. The results of a first experiment show that achromatic inducers facilitate the detection of achromatic targets on gray and colored backgrounds, but tend to suppress the detection of chromatic targets. Chromatic inducers facilitate the detection of chromatic targets on gray and colored backgrounds, but tend to suppress the detection of achromatic targets. Chromatic spatial facilitation appears to be strongest when inducers and background are isoluminant. The results of a second experiment show that spatial facilitation with chromatic targets and inducers requires a longer exposure duration of the inducers than spatial facilitation with achromatic targets and inducers, which is already fully effective at an inducer exposure of 30 ms only. The findings point towards two separate mechanisms for spatial facilitation with collinear form stimuli: one that operates in the domain of luminance, and one that operates in the domain of color contrast. These results are consistent with neural models of boundary and surface formation which suggest that achromatic and chromatic visual cues are represented on different cortical surface representations that are capable of selectively attracting attention. Multiple copies of these achromatic and chromatic surface representations exist corresponding to different ranges of perceived depth from an observer, and each can attract attention to itself. Color and contrast differences between inducing and test stimuli, and transient responses to inducing stimuli, can cause attention to shift across these surface representations in ways that sometimes enhance and sometimes interfere with target detection. (shrink)
Lehar's Gestalt Bubble model introduces a computational approach to holistic aspects of three-dimensional scene perception. The model as such has merit because it manages to translate certain Gestalt principles of perceptual organization into formal codes or algorithms. The mistake made in this target article is to present the model within the theoretical framework of the question of consciousness. As a scientific approach to the problem of consciousness, the Gestalt Bubble fails for several reasons. This commentary addresses three of these: (1) (...) the terminology surrounding the concept of consciousness is not rigorously defined; (2) it is not made evident that three-dimensional scene perception requires consciousness at all; and (3) it is not clearly explained by which mechanism(s) the “picture-in-the-head,” supposedly represented in the brain, would be made available to different levels of awareness or consciousness. Footnotes1 After Shakespeare, Macbeth. (shrink)
A simple working taxonomy with three classes of pictorial completion is proposed as an alternative to Pessoa et al.'s classification: area, surface, and contour completion. The classification is based on psychophysical evidence, not on the different phenomenal attributes of the stimuli, showing that pictorial completion is likely to involve mechanistic interactions in the visual system at different levels of processing. Whether the concept of “filling-in” is an appropriate metaphor for the visual mechanisms that may underlie perceptual completion is questioned.
The heuristic value of Pylyshyn's cognitive impenetrability theory is questioned in this commentary, mainly because, as it stands, the key argument cannot be challenged empirically. Pylyshyn requires unambiguous evidence for an effect of cognitive states on early perceptual mechanisms, which is impossible to provide because we can only infer what might happen at these earlier levels of processing on the basis of evidence collected at the post-perceptual stage. Furthermore, the theory that early visual processes cannot be modified by cognitive states (...) implies that it is totally pointless to try to investigate interactions between consciousness and neurosensory processes. (shrink)
This article presents psychophysical evidence that the Kanizsa Square does not produce an 'object superiority effect' previously reported in similar Gestalt configurations. Implications of the findings for Gestalt theory are addressed.
We question the ecological plausibility as a general model of cognition of van der Velde's & de Kamps's combinatorial blackboard architecture, where knowledge-binding in space and time relies on the structural rules of language. Evidence against their view of the brain and an ecologically plausible, alternative model of cognition are brought forward.
Shepard's concept of internalization does not suggest mechanisms which help to understand how the brain adapts to changes, how representations of a steadily changing environment are updated or, in short, how brain learning continues throughout life. Neural mechanisms, as suggested by Barlow, may prove a more powerful alternative. Brain theories such as Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART) propose mechanisms to explain how representational activities may be linked in space and time. Some predictions of ART are confirmed by psychophysical and neurophysiological data. (...) [Barlow; Shepard]. (shrink)