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Ilmari Kurki, Jussi Saarinen, Aapo Hyvärinen; Investigating shape perception by classification images. Journal of Vision 2014;14(12):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.12.24.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Radial frequency (RF) patterns are circular contours where the radius is modulated sinusoidally. These stimuli can represent a wide range of common shapes and have been popular for investigating human shape perception. Theories postulate a multistage model where a global contour integration mechanism integrates the outputs of local curvature-sensitive mechanisms. However, studies on how the local contour features are processed have been mostly based on indirect experimental manipulations. Here, we use a novel way to explore the contour integration, using the classification image (a psychophysical reverse-correlation) method. RF contours were composed of local elements, and random “radial position noise” offsets were added to element radial positions. We analyzed the relationship between trial-to-trial variations in radial noise and corresponding behavioral responses, resulting in a “shape template”: an estimate of the contour parts and features that the visual system uses in the shape discrimination task. Integration of contour features in a global template-like model explains our data well, and we show that observer performance for different shapes can be predicted from the classification images. Classification images show that observers used most of the contour parts. Further analysis suggests linear rather than probability summation of contour parts. Convex forms were detected better than concave forms and the corresponding templates had better sampling efficiency. With sufficient presentation time, we found no systematic preferences for a certain class of contour features (such as corners or sides). However, when the presentation time was very short, the visual system might prefer corner features over side features.
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