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Daniel J. Simons, Gabriel Nevarez; When the world fades away: Induced fading of natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):882. doi: 10.1167/4.8.882.
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Prolonged fixation leads to fading of a peripheral target (Troxler, 1804). More recent explorations have shown that perceived fading occurs in other contexts and possibly for other reasons: yellow disks disappear when presented against dynamic background elements (Bonneh et al., 2001), colored circles disappear as a function of attentional modulation (Lou, 1999), and display transients near a target induce fading (Kanai & Kamitani, 2003). Here, we present and explore the limits of a new fading demonstration in which full-color, low-pass filtered photographs of natural scenes fade to a uniform hue and luminance when observers maintain fixation. In a series of experiments, we examined the effect of spatial frequency on fading of natural scenes and gratings. Our results reveal the following phenomenology of “scene-fading”: (a) fading can occur in a piecemeal fashion, but it can also occur abruptly, with the scene seemingly disappearing all-at-once; (c) the image sometimes appears to jitter after partially fading, presumably due to small eye movements; (d) consistent with transient-induced fading, fading is somewhat faster and more complete when small black disks are rapidly and repeatedly flashed at random locations across the image, suggesting a contribution for transient signals in facilitating scene fading; (e) fading is faster and more complete with a greater extent of low-pass filtering; and (g) for gratings, fading is substantial with high spatial frequency and low contrast and decreases measurably as contrast increases. Interestingly, fading is greater for high spatial frequency gratings than for low spatial frequency gratings.
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