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Elan Barenholtz; Convexities move because they contain matter. Journal of Vision 2010;10(11):19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.11.19.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Figure–ground assignment to a contour is a fundamental stage in visual processing. The current paper introduces a novel, highly general dynamic cue to figure–ground assignment: “Convex Motion.” Across six experiments, subjects showed a strong preference to assign figure and ground to a dynamically deforming contour such that the moving contour segment was convex rather than concave. Experiments 1 and 2 established the preference across two different kinds of deformational motion. Additional experiments determined that this preference was not due to fixation (Experiment 3) or attentional mechanisms (Experiment 4). Experiment 5 found a similar, but reduced bias for rigid—as opposed to deformational—motion, and Experiment 6 demonstrated that the phenomenon depends on the global motion of the effected contour. An explanation of this phenomenon is presented on the basis of typical natural deformational motion, which tends to involve convex contour projections that contain regions consisting of physical “matter,” as opposed to concave contour indentations that contain empty space. These results highlight the fundamental relationship between figure and ground, perceived shape, and the inferred physical properties of an object.
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