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Sieu K. Khuu, Jack Gordon, Kaleah Balcomb, Juno Kim; The perception of three-dimensional cast-shadow structure is dependent on visual awareness. Journal of Vision 2014;14(3):25. doi: 10.1167/14.3.25.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In the present study we examined whether the perception of depth from cast shadows is dependent on visual awareness using continuous flash suppression (CFS). As a direct measure of how the visual system infers depth from cast shadows, we examined the cast-shadow motion illusion originally reported by Kersten, Knill, Mamassian, and Bulthoff (1996), in which a moving cast shadow induces illusory motion in depth in a physically stationary object. In Experiment 1, we used a disparity defined probe to determine the stereo motion speed required to match the cast-shadow motion illusion for different cast shadow speeds (0°/s–1.6°/s) and different lighting directions. We found that configurations implying light from above produce more compelling illusory effects. We also found that increasing shadow speed monotonically increased the stereo motion speed required to match the illusory motion, which suggests that quantitative depth can be derived from cast shadows when they are in motion. In Experiment 2, we used CFS to suppress the cast shadow from visual awareness. Visual suppression of the cast shadow from awareness greatly diminished the perception of illusory motion in depth. In Experiment 3 we confirmed that while CFS suppresses the cast-shadow motion from awareness, it continues to be processed by the visual system sufficient to generate a significant motion after effect. The results of the present study suggest that cast shadows can greatly contribute to the perception of scene depth structure, through a process that is dependent on the conscious awareness of the cast shadow.
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