Edge-induced illusory contours and visual detection: Subthreshold summation or spatial cueing?

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Findings that illusory contours can facilitate visual detection of a subthreshold real line (Dresp & Bonnet, 1995) were not replicated, when line-induced instead of edge-induced illusory contour stimuli were used (Salvano-Pardieu et al., 2006). Rather, the results of the latter study supported the importance of spatial cues. The present study was designed to investigate whether spatial cueing might also facilitate detection of targets superimposed on edge-induced illusory contours. In Experiment 1, a target line was superimposed on the illusory contour of a Kanizsa square, presented between dots with a precise or distant location to the target, or on a homogeneous field (control). Detection of the target was poorest for the control, followed by the distant-dots and Kanizsa conditions, whereas it was best for precisely cueing dots. Experiment 2 replicated the conditions in Experiment 1 (Kanizsa, precisely cueing dots, and control) with additional controls for possible luminance effects. The two new conditions matched the Kanizsa condition for overall luminance and preciseness of spatial cueing without generating illusory contours. Performance was best in the dot condition and worst in the control, but the same across the Kanizsa and matched luminance conditions. In Experiments 3 and 4, the stimuli presented were matched more closely to those used by Dresp and Bonnet, but still the results confirmed those obtained in our Experiments 1 and 2. Together, these experiments strongly suggest that detection is also facilitated by spatial cueing rather than subthreshold summation, in the case of edge-induced illusory contours. © 2009 Psychology Press, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business.




Salvano-Pardieu, V., Wink, B., Taliercio, A., Fontaine, R., Manktelow, K. I., & Ehrenstein, W. H. (2010). Edge-induced illusory contours and visual detection: Subthreshold summation or spatial cueing? Visual Cognition, 18(4), 591–616. https://doi.org/10.1080/13506280902949312

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