Contrast integration across space was studied in respect to stimulus extent and the spatial layout, using high-contrast stimuli. Contrast discrimination thresholds were measured (2AFC) by either increasing the size of a peripheral (2.4°) Gabor signal (GS: λ = 0.08°) or by increasing the number of GS elements in a circular arrangement. The supra-threshold mask (pedestal) was either increased with the target or fixed at maximal size and had 30% contrast. For stimuli with an increasing size of both the pedestal and the increment target, we find approximately constant discrimination thresholds. Contrast discrimination improved linearly on a log-log scale with Elopes average of - 1/4 (fourth-root summation) when the size of the Gabor target was increased but the mask was kept at maximal size, indicating contrast integration across space. Taken together, these results indicate balanced spatial integration of both contrast increment and pedestal, resulting object-size invariant contrast discrimination. Contrast discrimination was found to improve as well when the number of aligned Gabor elements was increased (both pedestal and increment), pointing to independent contrast normalization for disconnected (sparsely positioned) stimuli. The results indicate a complex pattern of spatial integration involved in contrast discrimination, possibly depending on image segmentation.
Bonneh, Y., & Sagi, D. (1999). Contrast integration across space. Vision Research, 39(16), 2597–2602. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0042-6989(99)00041-3