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Keith A. May, Robert F. Hess; Effects of element separation and carrier wavelength on detection of snakes and ladders: Implications for models of contour integration. Journal of Vision 2008;8(13):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.13.4.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In this paper, we examine the mechanisms underlying the perceptual integration of two types of contour: snakes (composed of Gabor elements parallel to the path of the contour) and ladders (with elements perpendicular to the path). We varied the element separation and carrier wavelength. Increasing the element separation impaired detection of snakes but did not affect ladders; at high separations, snakes and ladders were closely matched in difficulty. One subject showed no effect of carrier wavelength, and the other showed a decline in performance as the wavelength increased. We discuss how these results might be accommodated by association field models. We also present a new model in which the linkage results from overlap in the filter responses to adjacent elements. We show that, if 1st-order filters are used, the model's performance on widely spaced snake contours deteriorates greatly as the carrier wavelength of the elements decreases, in contrast to our psychophysical results. To integrate widely spaced contours with short carrier wavelengths, the model requires a 2nd-order process, in which a nonlinearity intervenes between small-scale 1st-stage filters and large-scale 2nd-stage filters. This model detects snakes when the 1st and 2nd stage filters have the same orientation, and detects ladders when they are orthogonal.
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