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Brian C. McCann, Mary M. Hayhoe, Wilson S. Geisler; Contributions of monocular and binocular cues to distance discrimination in natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2018;18(4):12. doi: 10.1167/18.4.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Little is known about distance discrimination in real scenes, especially at long distances. This is not surprising given the logistical difficulties of making such measurements. To circumvent these difficulties, we collected 81 stereo images of outdoor scenes, together with precisely registered range images that provided the ground-truth distance at each pixel location. We then presented the stereo images in the correct viewing geometry and measured the ability of human subjects to discriminate the distance between locations in the scene, as a function of absolute distance (3 m to 30 m) and the angular spacing between the locations being compared (2°, 5°, and 10°). Measurements were made for binocular and monocular viewing. Thresholds for binocular viewing were quite small at all distances (Weber fractions less than 1% at 2° spacing and less than 4% at 10° spacing). Thresholds for monocular viewing were higher than those for binocular viewing out to distances of 15–20 m, beyond which they were the same. Using standard cue-combination analysis, we also estimated what the thresholds would be based on binocular-stereo cues alone. With two exceptions, we show that the entire pattern of results is consistent with what one would expect from classical studies of binocular disparity thresholds and separation/size discrimination thresholds measured with simple laboratory stimuli. The first exception is some deviation from the expected pattern at close distances (especially for monocular viewing). The second exception is that thresholds in natural scenes are lower, presumably because of the rich figural cues contained in natural images.
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