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Alexandra C. Schmid, Barton L. Anderson; Perceptual dimensions underlying lightness perception in homogeneous center-surround displays. Journal of Vision 2017;17(2):6. doi: 10.1167/17.2.6.
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Lightness judgments of targets embedded in a homogeneous surround exhibit abrupt steps in perceived lightness at points at which the targets transition from being increments to decrements. This “crispening effect” and the general difficulty of matching low-contrast targets embedded in homogeneous surrounds suggest that a second perceptual dimension in addition to lightness may contribute to the appearance of test patches in these displays. The present study explicitly tested whether two dimensions (lightness and transmittance) could lead to more satisfactory matches than lightness alone in an asymmetric matching task. We also examined whether transmittance matches were more strongly associated with task instructions that had observers match perceived transparency or the perceived edge contrast of the target relative to the surround. We found that matching target lightness in a homogeneous display to that in a textured or rocky display required varying both lightness and transmittance of the test patch on the textured display to obtain the most satisfactory matches. However, observers primarily varied transmittance when instructed to match the perceived contrast of targets against homogeneous surrounds, but not when instructed to match the amount of transparency perceived in the displays. The results suggest that perceived target–surround edge contrast differs between homogeneous and textured displays. Varying the midlevel property of transparency in textured displays provides a natural means for equating both target lightness and the unique appearance of the edge contrast in homogeneous displays.
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