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Ana Radonjić, Alan L. Gilchrist; Lightness perception in simple images: Testing the anchoring rules. Journal of Vision 2014;14(13):25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.13.25.
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One approach toward understanding how vision computes surface lightness is to first determine what principles govern lightness in simple stimuli and then test whether these hold for more complex stimuli. Gilchrist (2006) proposed that in the simplest images that produce the experience of a surface (two surfaces differing in luminance that fill the entire visual field) lightness can be predicted based on two anchoring rules: the highest luminance rule and the area rule, plus a scale normalization. To test whether these anchoring rules hold when critical features of the stimuli are varied, we probed lightness in simple stimuli, painted onto the inside of hemispheric domes viewed under diffuse lighting. We find that although the highest luminance surface appears nearly white across a large variation in illumination (as predicted by the highest luminance rule), its lightness tends to increase as its luminance increases. This effect is small relative to the size of the overall luminance change. Further, we find that when the darker region fills more than half of the visual field, it appears to lighten with further increases in area but only if it is a single surface. Splitting the dark region into smaller sectors that cover an equal cumulative area diminishes or eliminates the area effect.
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