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J Vis. 2010 May 1;10(5):13. doi: 10.1167/10.5.13.

Focus information is used to interpret binocular images.

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Vision Science Program, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Focus information-blur and accommodation-is highly correlated with depth in natural viewing. We examined the use of focus information in solving the binocular correspondence problem and in interpreting monocular occlusions. We presented transparent scenes consisting of two planes. Observers judged the slant of the farther plane, which was seen through the nearer plane. To do this, they had to solve the correspondence problem. In one condition, the two planes were presented with sharp rendering on one image plane, as is done in conventional stereo displays. In another condition, the planes were presented on two image planes at different focal distances, simulating focus information in natural viewing. Depth discrimination performance improved significantly when focus information was correct, which shows that the visual system utilizes the information contained in depth-of-field blur in solving binocular correspondence. In a second experiment, we presented images in which one eye could see texture behind an occluder that the other eye could not see. When the occluder's texture was sharp along with the occluded texture, binocular rivalry was prominent. When the occluded and occluding textures were presented with different blurs, rivalry was significantly reduced. This shows that blur aids the interpretation of scene layout near monocular occlusions.

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