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Ben Balas, Ruth Rosenholtz, Alvin Raj; Beyond texture processing: further implications of statistical representations. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):28. doi: 10.1167/10.7.28.
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The proposal that peripherally-viewed stimuli are represented by summary statistics of visual structure has implications for a wide range of tasks. Already, my collaborators and I have demonstrated that texture processing, crowding, and visual search appear to be well-described by such representations, and I suggest that it may be fruitful to significantly extend the scope of our investigations into the affordances and limitations of a “statistical” vocabulary. Specifically, I submit that many tasks that have been heretofore described broadly as “visual cognition” tasks may also be more easily understood within this conceptual framework. How do we determine whether an object lies within a closed contour or not? How do we judge if an unobstructed path can be traversed between two points within a maze? What makes it difficult to determine the impossibility of “impossible” objects under some conditions? These specific tasks appear to be quite distinct, yet I suggest that what they share is a common dependence on the visual periphery that constrains task performance by the imposition of a summary-statistic representation of the input. Here, I shall re-cast these classic problems of visual perception within the context of a statistical representation of the stimulus and discuss how our approach offers fresh insight into the processes that support performance in these tasks and others.
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