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Vijay Singh, Johannes Burge, David H. Brainard; Equivalent noise characterization of human lightness constancy. Journal of Vision 2022;22(5):2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.5.2.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A goal of visual perception is to provide stable representations of task-relevant scene properties (e.g. object reflectance) despite variation in task-irrelevant scene properties (e.g. illumination and reflectance of other nearby objects). To study such stability in the context of the perceptual representation of lightness, we introduce a threshold-based psychophysical paradigm. We measure how thresholds for discriminating the achromatic reflectance of a target object (task-relevant property) in rendered naturalistic scenes are impacted by variation in the reflectance functions of background objects (task-irrelevant property), using a two-alternative forced-choice paradigm in which the reflectance of the background objects is randomized across the two intervals of each trial. We control the amount of background reflectance variation by manipulating a statistical model of naturally occurring surface reflectances. For low background object reflectance variation, discrimination thresholds were nearly constant, indicating that observers’ internal noise determines threshold in this regime. As background object reflectance variation increases, its effects start to dominate performance. A model based on signal detection theory allows us to express the effects of task-irrelevant variation in terms of the equivalent noise, that is relative to the intrinsic precision of the task-relevant perceptual representation. The results indicate that although naturally occurring background object reflectance variation does intrude on the perceptual representation of target object lightness, the effect is modest – within a factor of two of the equivalent noise level set by internal noise.
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