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Juno Kim, Stuart Anstis; Perceived depth from shading boundaries. Journal of Vision 2016;16(6):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.6.5.
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Shading is well known to provide information the visual system uses to recover the three-dimensional shape of objects. We examined conditions under which patterns in shading promote the experience of a change in depth at contour boundaries, rather than a change in reflectance. In Experiment 1, we used image manipulation to illuminate different regions of a smooth surface from different directions. This manipulation imposed local differences in shading direction across edge contours (delta shading). We found that increasing the angle of delta shading, from 0° to 180°, monotonically increased perceived depth across the edge. Experiment 2 found that the perceptual splitting of shading into separate foreground and background surfaces depended on an assumed light source from above prior. Image regions perceived as foreground structures in upright images appeared farther in depth when the same images were inverted. We also found that the experienced break in surface continuity could promote the experience of amodal completion of colored contours that were ambiguous as to their depth order (Experiment 3). These findings suggest that the visual system can identify occlusion relationships based on monocular variations in local shading direction, but interprets this information according to a light source from above prior of midlevel visual processing.
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