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C. M. P. Muller, E. Brenner, J. B. J. Smeets; Living up to optimal expectations. Journal of Vision 2007;7(3):2. doi: 10.1167/7.3.2.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Natural visual scenes contain several independent sources of information (cues) about a single property such as slant. It is widely assumed that the visual system processes such cues separately and then combines them with an averaging operation that takes the reliabilities of the individual cues into account. Does that mean that people lose access to information about inconsistencies between the cues, or are all inconsistencies revealed in a distorted surface appearance? To find out, we let observers match the slant and appearance of a simulated test surface to those of an identical, simultaneously visible, simulated reference surface and analyzed the variability in the settings. We also let observers match surfaces under conditions that were manipulated in ways that were expected to favor certain cues (monocular or binocular) or to selectively disrupt certain comparisons between the surfaces (slant or structure). The patterns in the variability between the settings were consistent with predictions based on the use of all available information. We argue that information about discrepancies is only “lost” during cue combination if there is no benefit in retaining the information.
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