To assess the role of second-order channels in symmetry perception we measured the effects of check size, spatial frequency content, eccentricity and grey scale range on the detection of symmetrical and anti-symmetrical patterns. Thresholds for symmetrical stimuli were only moderately affected by these manipulations. Anti-symmetrical stimuli composed of large black and white checks elicited low thresholds. However, anti-symmetry became essentially undetectable at small check sizes. Removing low frequencies from large-check-size, anti-symmetrical stimuli had little effect on thresholds whereas removing high frequencies had a pronounced effect. Moving the stimuli from fixation to 8°eccentricity caused a dramatic increase in thresholds for anti-symmetrical stimuli but not symmetrical stimuli. When the grey scale range was increased anti-symmetry was undetectable at any check size whereas symmetry was easily seen at all. We argue that these results and others in the literature suggest that anti-symmetry is only detected under conditions favourable to selective attention. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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