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Milena Scaccia, Michael S. Langer; Signs of depth-luminance covariance in 3-D cluttered scenes. Journal of Vision 2018;18(3):5. doi: 10.1167/18.3.5.
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In three-dimensional (3-D) cluttered scenes such as foliage, deeper surfaces often are more shadowed and hence darker, and so depth and luminance often have negative covariance. We examined whether the sign of depth-luminance covariance plays a role in depth perception in 3-D clutter. We compared scenes rendered with negative and positive depth-luminance covariance where positive covariance means that deeper surfaces are brighter and negative covariance means deeper surfaces are darker. For each scene, the sign of the depth-luminance covariance was given by occlusion cues. We tested whether subjects could use this sign information to judge the depth order of two target surfaces embedded in 3-D clutter. The clutter consisted of distractor surfaces that were randomly distributed in a 3-D volume. We tested three independent variables: the sign of the depth-luminance covariance, the colors of the targets and distractors, and the background luminance. An analysis of variance showed two main effects: Subjects performed better when the deeper surfaces were darker and when the color of the target surfaces was the same as the color of the distractors. There was also a strong interaction: Subjects performed better under a negative depth-luminance covariance condition when targets and distractors had different colors than when they had the same color. Our results are consistent with a “dark means deep” rule, but the use of this rule depends on the similarity between the color of the targets and color of the 3-D clutter.
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