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Guillermo Aguilar, Marianne Maertens; Toward reliable measurements of perceptual scales in multiple contexts. Journal of Vision 2020;20(4):19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.4.19.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A central question in psychophysical research is how perceptual differences between stimuli translate into physical differences and vice versa. Characterizing such a psychophysical scale would reveal how a stimulus is converted into a perceptual event, particularly under changes in viewing conditions (e.g., illumination). Various methods exist to derive perceptual scales, but in practice, scale estimation is often bypassed by assessing appearance matches. Matches, however, only reflect the underlying perceptual scales but do not reveal them directly. Two recently developed methods, MLDS (Maximum Likelihood Difference Scaling) and MLCM (Maximum Likelihood Conjoint Measurement), promise to reliably estimate perceptual scales. Here we compared both methods in their ability to estimate perceptual scales across context changes in the domain of lightness perception. In simulations, we adopted a lightness constant, a contrast, and a luminance-based observer model to generate differential patterns of perceptual scales. MLCM correctly recovered all models. MLDS correctly recovered only the lightness constant observer model. We also empirically probed both methods with two types of stimuli: (a) variegated checkerboards that support lightness constancy and (b) center-surround stimuli that do not support lightness constancy. Consistent with the simulations, MLDS and MLCM provided similar scale estimates in the first case and divergent estimates in the second. In addition, scales from MLCM–and not from MLDS–accurately predicted asymmetric matches for both types of stimuli. Taking experimental and simulation results together, MLCM seems more apt to provide a valid estimate of the perceptual scales underlying judgments of lightness across viewing conditions.
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