The Detection of Nonplanar Surfaces in Visual Space

The Detection of Nonplanar Surfaces in Visual Space

The Detection of Nonplanar Surfaces in Visual Space

The Detection of Nonplanar Surfaces in Visual Space

Excerpt

During the past decade, together with my colleagues in the Perception Laboratory at the Institute for Social Research, I have been involved in the search for answers to a relatively straightforward empirical question: What is the effect of the geometry of a dotted stimulus-form on its visual detectability when it is embedded in afield of randomly arrayed masking-dots? We have researched this question for both two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual stimuli. For the present study, we generated three-dimensional stimuli in a computer-controlled, real-time, dichoptic viewing situation in which the disparity of the two retinal images was manipulated to produce a strong and compelling experience of depth.

There are several theoretical and practical arguments for pursuing this research paradigm. The very nature of the dotted-abstraction-from-continuous-reality that is embodied in our experiments provides us with a simple and convenient domain in which to study some exceedingly interesting and complex perceptual phenomena. Indeed, the abstracted reality is simple enough that in some cases it has been possible to construct formal mathematical models of the behavior of the human observer in the dot-detection task, an accomplishment that would have been impossible in a study that used continuous forms. The relatively high degree of success previously enjoyed in applying a formal model based on the autocorrelation transform to the description of the perceptual performance in the detection of dotted stimulus-forms (Uttal, 1975; 1983) is an example of how simplification per se can carry understanding beyond where it might have been had we chosen to use more natural continuous stimuli.

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