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Yu-Chin Chai, Bart Farell; From disparity to depth: How to make a grating and a plaid appear in the same depth plane. Journal of Vision 2009;9(10):3. doi: 10.1167/9.10.3.
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Even though binocular disparity is a very well-studied cue to depth, the function relating disparity and perceived depth has been characterized only for the case of horizontal disparities. We sought to determine the general relationship between disparity and depth for a particular set of stimuli. The horizontal disparity direction is a special case, albeit an especially important one. Non-horizontal disparities arise from a number of sources under natural viewing condition. Moreover, they are implicit in patterns that are one-dimensional, such as gratings, lines, and edges, and in one-dimensional components of two-dimensional patterns, where a stereo matching direction is not well-defined. What function describes perceived depth in these cases? To find out, we measured the phase disparities that produced depth matches between a reference stimulus and a test stimulus. The reference stimulus was two-dimensional, a plaid; the test stimulus was one-dimensional, a grating. We find that horizontal disparity is no more important than other disparity directions in determining depth matches between these two stimuli. As a result, a grating and a plaid appear equal in depth when their horizontal disparities are, in general, unequal. Depth matches are well predicted by a simple disparity vector calculation; they survive changes in component parameters that conserve these vector quantities. The disparity vector rule also describes how the disparities of 1-D components might contribute to the perceived depth of 2-D stimuli.
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