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Anna Seydell, David C. Knill, Julia Trommershäuser; Adapting internal statistical models for interpreting visual cues to depth. Journal of Vision 2010;10(4):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.4.1.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The informativeness of sensory cues depends critically on statistical regularities in the environment. However, statistical regularities vary between different object categories and environments. We asked whether and how the brain changes the prior assumptions about scene statistics used to interpret visual depth cues when stimulus statistics change. Subjects judged the slants of stereoscopically presented figures by adjusting a virtual probe perpendicular to the surface. In addition to stereoscopic disparities, the aspect ratio of the stimulus in the image provided a “figural compression” cue to slant, whose reliability depends on the distribution of aspect ratios in the world. As we manipulated this distribution from regular to random and back again, subjects' reliance on the compression cue relative to stereoscopic cues changed accordingly. When we randomly interleaved stimuli from shape categories (ellipses and diamonds) with different statistics, subjects gave less weight to the compression cue for figures from the category with more random aspect ratios. Our results demonstrate that relative cue weights vary rapidly as a function of recently experienced stimulus statistics and that the brain can use different statistical models for different object categories. We show that subjects' behavior is consistent with that of a broad class of Bayesian learning models.
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