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Peeling Plaids Apart: Context Counteracts Cross-Orientation Contrast Masking

Freeman, E; Verghese, P; (2009) Peeling Plaids Apart: Context Counteracts Cross-Orientation Contrast Masking. PLOS ONE , 4 (12) , Article e8123. 10.1371/journal.pone.0008123. Green and gold open access

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Abstract

Background: Contrast discrimination for an image is usually harder if another image is superimposed on top. We asked whether such contrast masking may be enhanced or relieved depending on cues promoting integration of both images as a single pattern, versus segmentation into two independent components. Methodology & Principal Findings: Contrast discrimination thresholds for a foveal test grating were sharply elevated in the presence of a perfectly overlapping orthogonally-oriented mask grating. However thresholds returned to the unmasked baseline when a surround grating was added, having the same orientation and phase of either the test or mask grating. Both such masking and ‘unmasking’ effects were much stronger for moving than static stimuli. Conclusions & Significance: Our results suggest that common-fate motion reinforces the perception of a single coherent plaid pattern, while the surround helps to identify each component independently, thus peeling the plaid apart again. These results challenge current models of early vision, suggesting that higher-level surface organization influences contrast encoding, determining whether the contrast of a grating may be recovered independently from that of its mask.

Type:Article
Title:Peeling Plaids Apart: Context Counteracts Cross-Orientation Contrast Masking
Open access status:An open access publication. A version is also available from UCL Discovery.
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0008123
Publisher version:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008123
Language:English
Additional information:© 2009 Freeman, Verghese. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences

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