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Psychol Sci. 2004 Aug;15(8):565-70.

Perception of three-dimensional shape from specular highlights, deformations of shading, and other types of visual information.

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1
Department of Psychology, Western Kentucky University.

Abstract

There have been numerous computational models developed in an effort to explain how the human visual system analyzes three-dimensional (3D) surface shape from patterns of image shading, but they all share some important limitations. Models that are applicable to individual static images cannot correctly interpret regions that contain specular highlights, and those that are applicable to moving images have difficulties when a surface moves relative to its sources of illumination. Here we describe a psychophysical experiment that measured the sensitivity of human observers to small differences of 3D shape over a wide variety of conditions. The results provide clear evidence that the presence of specular highlights or the motions of a surface relative to its light source do not pose an impediment to perception, but rather, provide powerful sources of information for the perceptual analysis of 3D shape.

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