Surface integration influences depth discrimination

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Image fragments arising from partial occlusion may be perceptually unified by a surface integration process on the basis of similar color or texture. In a new objective measure pitting surface feature similarity against binocular disparity, observers discriminated whether a colored circle had either crossed or uncrossed disparity relative to a surrounding gray rectangle. Sensitivity to disparity was impaired only when (1) the configuration of the other surface fragments in the display supported the integration of a surface behind the rectangle and circle, and (2) matched the color of the central circle. Results were consistent with the hypothesis that a surface integration process integrated similarly-colored surface fragments into a smooth surface, even when those fragments were at different depths. Surface integration caused small and reliable effects on depth perception despite unambiguous disparity information. Perceived depth does not depend solely upon disparity, and may be determined after three-dimensional figural unity is established. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.




Yin, C., Kellman, P. J., & Shipley, T. F. (2000). Surface integration influences depth discrimination. Vision Research, 40(15), 1969–1978.

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