Collin C A, Wang L, O’Byrne B, 2006, "Effects of image background on spatial-frequency thresholds for face recognition" Perception 35(11) 1459 – 1472
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Effects of image background on spatial-frequency thresholds for face recognition
Charles A Collin, Luisa Wang, Byron O’Byrne
Received 5 July 2005, in revised form 18 November 2005; published online 8 November 2006
Abstract. A great deal of work has been devoted to the question of which spatial frequencies, if any, are optimal for various visual tasks, such as face and object recognition. However, to date these studies have all been carried out with stimuli set against a uniform background. It is possible that this type of stimulus does not produce ecologically valid results. The natural world in which visual tasks normally take place involves a great deal of luminance variation and distracting visual structure, which may alter the spatial frequencies necessary for a task. We conducted two experiments that examined the effects of image background on the spatial-frequency thresholds (50% maximum of a low-pass or high-pass Butterworth filter) for face recognition by the psychophysical methods of adjustment and constant stimuli. In both experiments we found no significant difference in spatial-frequency thresholds between uniform-grey backgrounds and natural-scene backgrounds, and only minor differences between uniform-grey backgrounds and fractal noise backgrounds. This suggests that results obtained with uniform backgrounds are ecologically valid and that background effects, if they exist, are small.
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