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Rolf Nelson, Sherri Conklin, Laura Parker, Jason Reiss; Holes are perceived as shaped in a speeded perceptual task. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1156. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.1156.
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A surrounded region perceived as a hole presents an interesting case for figure-ground perception. Previous experiments have demonstrated that the shapes of holes are remembered nearly as well as objects (Palmer, Davis, Nelson, & Rock, 2008), although according to classic figure-ground theories, the region in front should receive a shape description. Others have suggested that holes would not receive a shape description in a speeded perceptual task (Bertamini, 2006). To address this possibility, in the current experiment participants made a speeded perceptual judgment (4AFC) about the matching shape for either a hole or an object, and when they were given either the surrounded shape or its complement. Results clearly show that, contrary to predictions that the shape of the front region should always be perceived, participants were faster when matching the shape of the hole than in matching the shape of its complement (that is, the edge belonging to the surrounding region that was in front). These results are discussed in terms of a functional visuomotor theory of why the shape of holes might be perceived.
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