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Suzanne P. McKee, Douglas G. Taylor; The precision of binocular and monocular depth judgments in natural settings. Journal of Vision 2010;10(10):5. doi: 10.1167/10.10.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We measured binocular and monocular depth thresholds for objects presented in a real environment. Observers judged the depth separating a pair of metal rods presented either in relative isolation, or surrounded by other objects, including a textured surface. In the isolated setting, binocular thresholds were greatly superior to the monocular thresholds by as much as a factor of 18. The presence of adjacent objects and textures improved the monocular thresholds somewhat, but the superiority of binocular viewing remained substantial (roughly a factor of 10). To determine whether motion parallax would improve monocular sensitivity for the textured setting, we asked observers to move their heads laterally, so that the viewing eye was displaced by 8–10 cm; this motion produced little improvement in the monocular thresholds. We also compared disparity thresholds measured with the real rods to thresholds measured with virtual images in a standard mirror stereoscope. Surprisingly, for the two naive observers, the stereoscope thresholds were far worse than the thresholds for the real rods—a finding that indicates that stereoscope measurements for unpracticed observers should be treated with caution. With practice, the stereoscope thresholds for one observer improved to almost the precision of the thresholds for the real rods.
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