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Perception. 1995;24(2):127-53.

Mechanisms of stereoscopic processing: stereoattention and surface perception in depth reconstruction.

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  • 1Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.


Consideration of the range of phenomena from studies of human stereopsis suggests that a five-stage model is required to provide a complete account of the processes involved, within which any stereoattention mechanism must operate. The information from the disparity field of the optical projections to the two eyes (stage 1) goes to a set of parallel Keplerian arrays of disparity detectors, each array selective for a different spatiotemporal property of the visual images (stage 2). Global interactions produce a cyclopean depth image that is cleaned of the spurious ghost images in the Keplerian arrays (stage 3) and that may then be processed for its (hypercyclopean) from elements (stage 4). Finally, there must be a stage of integration of the stereoscopic depth cues with monocular and kinesthetic depth cues to form the overall map of perceived distance (stage 5). The fact that multiple cyclopean surfaces may be perceived as transparent implies that the stereoscopic system is not limited by a singular-surface constraint. However, it is unclear whether multiple surfaces can be seen simultaneously or whether only one surface is seen at a time by a selective-attention process, with the others perceived as a purely inchoate (qualitative) depth impression. New experiments on cueing of ambiguous stereocorrugations by singular flat planes suggest that selective stereoattention is a powerful mechanism. In fact, the results show that attention can be focused not just in horopteral planes but in a variety of depth configurations. Moreover, this attention focus may act as a tracking mechanism to allow perception of smooth cyclopean stereomotion, which has a frequency response up to approximately 5 Hz (in contrast to the approximately 15 Hz limit for detecting planar disparity shifts as jerky appearance and disappearance effects). Finally, the spatial limits of stereosurface reconstruction are explored with cyclopean targets to show some interesting asymmetries of the surface-wrapping process that may represent object-oriented constraints on depth reconstruction.

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