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J Vis. 2003;3(10):616-24. Epub 2003 Oct 30.

Sensitivity for global shape detection.

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McGill Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


In order to understand the nature of the mechanisms responsible for global shape detection, we measured coherence thresholds in a 2IFC task where subjects judged which of two arrays of Gabors contained global circular structure. The stimulus was composed of an array of oriented Gabor patches positioned on a polar grid. Thresholds were obtained for different array parameters (e.g. different area, density, number and positions of elements) as well as for different element parameters (e.g. different carrier spatial frequencies, contrasts, polarities and orientations). Global structure was detected when ~10% of the elements were coherently oriented. Neither the properties of the array (density, area, number or position of elements), nor those of the individual elements (carrier spatial frequency, contrast, polarity) altered coherence thresholds. Varying contrast or carrier spatial frequency within individual arrays also did not alter performance. Sensitivity was invariant to positional perturbations of the array grid. Only jittering the local orientation of elements decreased sensitivity. The underlying mechanisms are broadly tuned for contrast, spatial frequency and the spatial positioning of image samples. Detecting circular structure is a robust process and, in this case, a purely global one. Sensitivity was highest for circular as opposed to radial or spiral shapes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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