Binocular vision is obviously useful for depth perception, but it might also enhance other components of visual processing, such as image segmentation. We used naturalistic images to determine whether giving an object a stereoscopic offset of 15-120 arcmin of crossed disparity relative to its background would make the object easier to recognize in briefly presented (33-133 ms), temporally masked displays. Disparity had a beneficial effect across a wide range of disparities and display durations. Most of this benefit occurred whether or not the stereoscopic contour agreed with the object's luminance contour. We attribute this benefit to an orienting of spatial attention that selected the object and its local background for enhanced 2D pattern processing. At longer display durations, contour agreement provided an additional benefit, and a separate experiment using random-dot stimuli confirmed that stereoscopic contours plausibly contributed to recognition at the longer display durations in our experiment. We conclude that in real-world situations binocular vision confers an advantage not only for depth perception, but also for recognizing objects from their luminance patterns and bounding contours.
Caziot, B., & Backus, B. T. (2015). Stereoscopic offset makes objects easier to recognize. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0129101