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J Vis. 2009 Feb 19;9(2):17.1-13. doi: 10.1167/9.2.17.

Image-size differences worsen stereopsis independent of eye position.

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School of Optometry, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-2020, USA.


With the eyes in forward gaze, stereo performance worsens when one eye's image is larger than the other's. Near, eccentric objects naturally create retinal images of different sizes. Does this mean that stereopsis exhibits deficits for such stimuli? Or does the visual system compensate for the predictable image-size differences? To answer this, we measured discrimination of a disparity-defined shape for different relative image sizes. We did so for different gaze directions, some compatible with the image-size difference and some not. Magnifications of 10-15% caused a clear worsening of stereo performance. The worsening was determined only by relative image size and not by eye position. This shows that no neural compensation for image-size differences accompanies eye-position changes, at least prior to disparity estimation. We also found that a local cross-correlation model for disparity estimation performs like humans in the same task, suggesting that the decrease in stereo performance due to image-size differences is a byproduct of the disparity-estimation method. Finally, we looked for compensation in an observer who has constantly different image sizes due to differing eye lengths. She performed best when the presented images were roughly the same size, indicating that she has compensated for the persistent image-size difference.

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