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Perception. 1988;17(1):35-42.

The concave cusp as a determiner of figure-ground.

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Department of Computer Science, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403.


The tendency to interpret as figure, relative to background, those regions that are lighter, smaller, and, especially, more convex is well known. Wherever convex opaque objects abut or partially occlude one another in an image, the points of contact between the silhouettes form concave cusps, each indicating the local assignment of figure versus ground across the contour segments. It is proposed that this local geometric feature is a preattentive determiner of figure-ground perception and that it contributes to the previously observed tendency for convexity preference. Evidence is presented that figure-ground assignment can be determined solely on the basis of the concave cusp feature, and that the salience of the cusp derives from local geometry and not from adjacent contour convexity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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