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Lesley M. Deas, Laurie M. Wilcox; Gestalt grouping via closure degrades suprathreshold depth percepts. Journal of Vision 2014;14(9):14. doi: 10.1167/14.9.14.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It is well known that the perception of depth is susceptible to changes in configuration. For example, stereoscopic precision for a pair of vertical lines can be dramatically reduced when these lines are connected to form a closed object. Here, we extend this paradigm to suprathreshold estimates of perceived depth. Using a touch-sensor, observers made quantitative estimates of depth between a vertical line pair presented in isolation or as edges of a closed rectangular object with different figural interpretations. First, we show that the amount of depth estimated within a closed rectangular object is consistently reduced relative to the vertical edges presented in isolation or when they form the edges of two segmented objects. We then demonstrate that the reduction in perceived depth for closed objects is modulated by manipulations that influence perceived closure of the central figure. Depth percepts were most disrupted when the horizontal connectors and vertical lines matched in color. Perceived depth increased slightly when the connectors had opposite contrast polarity, but increased dramatically when flankers were added. Thus, as grouping cues were added to counter the interpretation of a closed object, the depth degradation effect was systematically eliminated. The configurations tested here rule out explanations based on early, local interactions such as inhibition or cue conflict; instead, our results provide strong evidence of the impact of Gestalt grouping, via closure, on depth magnitude percepts from stereopsis.
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