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Brittney Hartle, Aishwarya Sudhama-Joseph, Elizabeth L. Irving, Robert S. Allison, Mackenzie G. Glaholt, Laurie M. Wilcox; Shape judgments in natural scenes: Convexity biases versus stereopsis. Journal of Vision 2022;22(8):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.8.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Determining the relief of upcoming terrain is critical to locomotion over rough or uneven ground. Given the significant contribution of stereopsis to perceived surface shape, it should play a crucial role in determining the shape of ground surfaces. The aim of this series of experiments was to evaluate the relative contribution of monocular and binocular depth cues to judgments of ground relief. To accomplish this goal, we simulated a depth discrimination task using naturalistic imagery. Stimuli consisted of a stereoscopically rendered grassy terrain with a central mound or a dip with varying height. We measured thresholds for discrimination of the direction of the depth offset. To determine the relationship between relief discrimination and measures of stereopsis, we used two stereoacuity tasks performed under the same viewing conditions. To assess the impact of ambiguous two-dimensional shading cues on depth judgments in our terrain task, we manipulated the intensity of the shading (low and high). Our results show that observers reliably discriminated ground reliefs as small as 20 cm at a viewing distance of 9.1 m. As the shading was intensified, a large proportion of observers (30%) exhibited a strong convexity bias, even when stereopsis indicated a concave depression. This finding suggests that there are significant individual differences in the reliance on assumptions of surface curvature that must be considered in experimental conditions. In impoverished viewing environments with limiting depth cues, these convexity biases could persist in judgments of ground relief, especially when shading cues are highly salient.
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