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Takuma Morimoto, Ai Numata, Kazuho Fukuda, Keiji Uchikawa; Luminosity thresholds of colored surfaces are determined by their upper-limit luminances empirically internalized in the visual system. Journal of Vision 2021;21(13):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.13.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We typically have a fairly good idea whether a given object is self-luminous or illuminated, but it is not fully understood how we make this judgment. This study aimed to identify determinants of the luminosity threshold, a luminance level at which a surface begins to appear self-luminous. We specifically tested a hypothesis that our visual system knows the maximum luminance level that a surface can reach under the physical constraint that a surface cannot reflect more light than any incident light and applies this prior to determine the luminosity thresholds. Observers were presented with a 2-degree circular test field surrounded by numerous overlapping colored circles and luminosity thresholds were measured as a function of (i) the chromaticity of the test field, (ii) the shape of surrounding color distribution, and (iii) the color of the illuminant of the surrounding colors. We found that the luminosity thresholds peaked around the chromaticity of test illuminants and decreased as the purity of the test chromaticity increased. However, the loci of luminosity thresholds across chromaticities were nearly invariant to the shape of the surrounding color distribution and generally resembled the loci drawn from theoretical upper-limit luminances and upper-limit luminance boundaries of real objects. These trends were particularly evident for illuminants on the black-body locus and did not hold well under atypical illuminants, such as magenta or green. These results support the idea that our visual system empirically internalizes the gamut of surface colors under natural illuminants and a given object appears self-luminous when its luminance exceeds this internalized upper-limit luminance.
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