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Rita Sousa, Eli Brenner, Jeroen B. J. Smeets; Judging an unfamiliar object's distance from its retinal image size. Journal of Vision 2011;11(9):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.9.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
How do we know how far an object is? If an object's size is known, its retinal image size can be used to judge its distance. To some extent, the retinal image size of an unfamiliar object can also be used to judge its distance, because some object sizes are more likely than others. To examine whether assumptions about object size are used to judge distance, we had subjects indicate the distance of virtual cubes in complete darkness. In separate sessions, the simulated cube size either varied slightly or considerably across presentations. Most subjects indicated a further distance when the simulated cube was smaller, showing that they used retinal image size to judge distance. The cube size that was considered to be most likely depended on the simulated cubes on previous trials. Moreover, subjects relied twice as strongly on retinal image size when the range of simulated cube sizes was small. We conclude that the variability in the perceived cube sizes on previous trials influences the range of sizes that are considered to be likely.
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