Depth discrimination from shading under diffuse lighting

Michael S. Langer, Heinrich Bulthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

110 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The human visual system has a remarkable ability to interpret smooth patterns of light on a surface in terms of 3-D surface geometry. Classical studies of shape-from-shading perception have assumed that surface irradiance varies with the angle between the local surface normal and a collimated light source. This model holds, for example, on a sunny day. One common situation in which this model fails to hold, however, is under diffuse lighting such as on a cloudy day. Here we report on the first psychophysical experiments that address shape-from-shading under a uniform diffuse-lighting condition. Our hypothesis was that shape perception can be explained with a perceptual model that "dark means deep". We tested this hypothesis by comparing performance in a depth-discrimination task to performance in a brightness-discrimination task, using identical stimuli. We found a significant correlation between responses in the two tasks, supporting a dark-means-deep model. However, overall performance in the depth-discrimination task was superior to that predicted by a dark-means-deep model. This implies that humans use a more accurate model than dark-means-deep to perceive shape-from-shading under diffuse lighting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-660
Number of pages12
JournalPerception
Volume29
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

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Lighting
Light
Aptitude
Task Performance and Analysis
Light sources
Discrimination (Psychology)
Luminance
Geometry
Experiments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Depth discrimination from shading under diffuse lighting. / Langer, Michael S.; Bulthoff, Heinrich.

In: Perception, Vol. 29, No. 6, 01.12.2000, p. 649-660.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Langer, Michael S. ; Bulthoff, Heinrich. / Depth discrimination from shading under diffuse lighting. In: Perception. 2000 ; Vol. 29, No. 6. pp. 649-660.
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