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J Vis. 2001;1(2):112-25.

Asymmetries in contrast polarity processing in young human infants.

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Department of Psychology and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI, USA.


Luminance increments and decrements of equal magnitude are processed asymmetrically in the adult visual system. At detection threshold, decrements are slightly easier to detect than increments. At suprathreshold contrast levels decrements appear to have more contrast than increments when both differ from the background by the same absolute amount. Two experiments are reported with 3.5-month-old human infants examining the processing of luminance increments and decrements. Using two different methods to measure the relative salience of positive and negative polarity high contrast bars, we found consistent evidence that dark bars appeared more salient to infants than light bars when both differed from the background by the same absolute amount. The asymmetry may be explained by noting that when luminance increments and decrements have the same Weber contrast, the decrements will have greater Michelson contrast. Perceived contrast in adults follows Michelson contrast more closely than Weber contrast, and a similar metric may characterize the relations between negative and positive contrasts in young human infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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