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      Lustrous material appearances: Internal and external constraints on triggering conditions for binocular lustre

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      i-Perception

      Pion

      perception of material qualities, lustrous appearances, stereoscopic lustre

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          Abstract

          Lustrous surface appearances can be elicited by simple image configurations with no texture or specular highlights, as most prominently illustrated by Helmholtz' demonstration of stereoscopic lustre. Three types of explanatory framework have been proposed for stereoscopic lustre, which attribute the phenomenon to a binocular luminance conflict, an internalised physical regularity (Helmholtz), or to a disentangling of “essential” and “accidental” attributes in surface representations (Hering). In order to investigate these frameworks, we used haploscopically fused half-images of centre-surround configurations in which the luminances of the test patch were dynamically modulated. Experiment 1 shows that stereoscopic lustre is not specifically tied to situations of a luminance conflict between the eyes. Experiment 2 identifies a novel aspect in the binocular temporal dynamics that provides a physical basis for lustrous appearances, namely the occurrence of a temporal luminance counter-modulation between the eyes. This feature sheds some light on the internal principles underlying a disentangling of “accidental” and “essential” surface attributes. Experiment 3 reveals an asymmetry between a light and a dark reference level for the counter-modulations. This finding again suggests an interpretation in terms of an internalised physical regularity with respect to the dynamics of perceiving illuminated surfaces.

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          What is rivalling during binocular rivalry?

          When different images are presented to the two eyes, they compete for perceptual dominance, such that one image is visible while the other is suppressed. This binocular rivalry is thought to reflect competition between monocular neurons within the primary visual cortex. However, neurons whose activity correlates with perception during rivalry are found mainly in higher cortical areas, and respond to input from both eyes. Thus rivalry may involve competition between alternative perceptual interpretations at a higher level of analysis. To investigate this, we tested the effect of rapidly alternating the rival stimuli between the two eyes. Under these conditions, the perceptual alternations exhibit the same temporal dynamics as with static patterns, and a single phase of perceptual dominance can span multiple alternations of the stimuli. Thus neural representations of the two stimuli compete for visual awareness independently of the eye through which they reach the higher visual areas. This finding places binocular rivalry in the general category of multistable phenomena, such as ambiguous figures, and provides a new way to study the neural cause and resolution of perceptual ambiguities.
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            Real-world illumination and the perception of surface reflectance properties

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              Specular reflections and the perception of shape.

              Many materials, including leaves, water, plastic, and chrome exhibit specular reflections. It seems reasonable that the visual system can somehow exploit specular reflections to recover three-dimensional (3D) shape. Previous studies (e.g., J. T. Todd & E. Mingolla, 1983; J. F. Norman, J. T. Todd, & G. A. Orban, 2004) have shown that specular reflections aid shape estimation, but the relevant image information has not yet been isolated. Here we explain how specular reflections can provide reliable and accurate constraints on 3D shape. We argue that the visual system can treat specularities somewhat like textures, by using the systematic patterns of distortion across the image of a specular surface to recover 3D shape. However, there is a crucial difference between textures and specularities: In the case of textures, the image compressions depend on the first derivative of the surface depth (i.e., surface orientation), whereas in the case of specularities, the image compressions depend on the second derivative (i.e., surfaces curvatures). We suggest that this difference provides a cue that can help the visual system distinguish between textures and specularities, even when present simultaneously. More importantly, we show that the dependency of specular distortions on the second derivative of the surface leads to distinctive fields of image orientation as the reflected world is warped across the surface. We find that these "orientation fields" are (i) diagnostic of 3D shape, (ii) remain surprisingly stable when the world reflected in the surface is changed, and (iii) can be extracted from the image by populations of simple oriented filters. Thus the use of specular reflections for 3D shape perception is both easier and more reliable than previous computational work would suggest.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Iperception
                Iperception
                pmed
                i-Perception
                Pion
                2041-6695
                2014
                10 January 2014
                : 5
                : 1
                : 1-19
                Affiliations
                Department of Psychology, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany; e-mail: mausfeld@ 123456psychologie.uni-kiel.de
                Department of Psychology, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany; e-mail: gunwendt@ 123456psychologie.uni-kiel.de
                Department of Psychology, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany; e-mail: golz@ 123456psychologie.uni-kiel.de
                Article
                10.1068/i0603
                4130504
                Copyright 2014 R Mausfeld, G Wendt, J Golz

                This open-access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Licence, which permits noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction, provided the original author(s) and source are credited and no alterations are made.

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                Neurosciences

                stereoscopic lustre, lustrous appearances, perception of material qualities

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