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Huseyin Boyaci, Mahru Kobal Şimşek, Ece Subaşı; Effect of contiguity and figure-ground organization on the area rule of lightness. Journal of Vision 2014;14(13):26. doi: 10.1167/14.13.26.
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In a simple two-dimensional (2D) display composed of two uniform surfaces with different luminances, the lightness of the darker surface varies as a function of its relative area while its luminance is held constant (Gilchrist & Radonjić, 2009; Li & Gilchrist, 1999). This phenomenon is known as the area rule of lightness, and although it is extensively studied in the literature, the underlying principles are still largely unknown. Here, using computer-generated stimuli, we investigated the effects of contiguity and figure-ground organization on the area rule of lightness. Stimuli were 2D disks composed of radial sectors with high (25 cd/m2) or low (8 cd/m2) luminance. On each trial, observers judged the lightness of the sectors by adjusting the luminance of a matching patch. Four conditions were tested. In the contiguous condition, there were one dark and one light sector; in the noncontiguous condition, both the light and dark surfaces were split into four equal radial sectors. Figure and ground conditions were generated by adding small contextual elements to the stimulus. We found that the area rule applied under all conditions; however, the functional form of the effect showed marked differences across conditions. Taken together, our results show that both high-level (e.g., perceptual grouping, figure-ground organization) and low-level (e.g., spatial-summation) mechanisms play a role in the area rule of lightness.
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