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)
High figure-ground contrast usually results in more positive evaluations of visual stimuli. This may either reflect that high figure-ground contrast per se is a desirable attribute or that this attribute facilitates fluent processing. In the latter case, the influence of high figure-ground contrast should be most pronounced under short exposure times, that is, under conditions where the facilitative influence on perceptual fluency is most pronounced. Supporting this hypothesis, ratings of the prettiness of visual stimuli (...) increased with figure-ground contrast under short exposure times (.3, 1, and 3 seconds, respectively). This positive influence of figure-ground contrast was eliminated under an exposure time of 10 seconds. We conclude that stimuli with high figure-ground contrast are more appealing because they are easier to process, not because high figure-ground contrast per se is a desirable attribute. We discuss this finding in the context of William James? notion that the fringe of consciousness includes vague contextual feelings at the periphery of the focus of attention and suggest that perceptual fluency is one of these feelings. (shrink)
We propose a new masking technique for masking word stimuli. Drawing on the phenomena of metacontrast and paracontrast, we alternately presented two prime displays of the same word with the background color in one display matching the font color in the other display and vice versa. The sequence of twenty alterations was sandwich-masked by structure masks. Using this masking technique, we conducted evaluative priming experiments with positive and negative target and prime words. Significant priming effects were found – for primes (...) and targets drawn from the same as well as from different word sets. Priming effects were independent of prime discrimination performance in direct tests and they were still significant after the sample was restricted to those participants who showed random responding in the direct test. (shrink)
Figure-Ground Duality in Humour: A Multi-Modal Perspective Creativity with words or pictures is not simply a matter of communicating a message, but of communicating it well, in a way that is effective, original and which defies convention. Effectiveness here pertains to the pragmatic goals of the communicator, and the extent to which these are achieved, while originality pertains to the manner in which the message is framed. Language, for instance, provides a wealth of conventions for framing a message; (...) indeed, the vast part of language is a solidified body of culturally received conventions, which fix the meaning of words and phrases and determine the contextual appropriateness of specific terms, topics and conversational strategies. To frame a message in a novel manner that stretches or even subverts these conventions, a communicator must imbue the elements of communication—whether words, gestures or pictorial elements—with additional meanings. This duality of meaning is not arbitrary, however, or communication cannot succeed. Rather, a creative communicator must draw out secondary meanings that are already implicit in the stock elements of communication, in a way that the audience can understand, appreciate and replicate. Duality thus lies at the heart of creative communication, allowing a communicator to say one thing and simultaneously convey another, secondary message that may augment or subvert the overt content of the communication. This mechanism, which draws out and gives prominence to that which is normally unseen or implicit, is Figure-Ground Reversal. (shrink)
A broad evolutionary perspective is essential to fully reverse figure and ground in the rationality debate. Humans' evolved psychological architecture was designed to produce inferences that were adaptive, not normatively logical. This perspective points to several predictable sources of errors in modern laboratory reasoning tasks, including inherent, systematic biases in information-processing systems explained by Error Management Theory.
"I don't want to hurry it ... When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. I just want to get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly, with the same attitude I remember was present just before . It is that attitude that found it, nothing else.".
Zeki and co-workers recently proposed that perception can best be described as locally distributed, asynchronous processes that each create a kind of microconsciousness, which condense into an experienced percept. The present article is aimed at extending this theory to metacognitive feelings. We present evidence that perceptual fluency—the subjective feeling of ease during perceptual processing—is based on speed of processing at different stages of the perceptual process. Specifically, detection of briefly presented stimuli was influenced by figure-ground contrast, but not (...) by symmetry or the font of the stimuli. Conversely, discrimination of these stimuli was influenced by whether they were symmetric and by the font they were presented in , but not by figure-ground contrast. Both tasks however were related with the subjective experience of fluency . We conclude that subjective fluency is the conscious phenomenal correlate of different processing stages in visual perception. (shrink)
The concept of simultaneous masking in visual field is discussed, in the light of classical examples, of the various kinds of the phenomenon, of a modal completion, of the figure/ground phenomenon, of ambiguous and reversible figures, of mimicry and camouflage and eventually of the complexity of the stimulus. There is some reference to masking in auditory field. The “reality” of the masked configuration is discussed, drawing the conclusion that it is perceptually unreal. The fact that the masking phenomenon (...) cannot take place without comparison between two perceptual acts – what we see at one moment and what we see a moment after LATER – and the fact that the masked configuration pops out with some surprise, lead to the conclusion that simultaneous masking in visual field is not a bare perceptual phenomenon, but a psychological process not unlike insight. (shrink)