Wilcox L M, Lakra D C, 2007, "Depth from binocular half-occlusions in stereoscopic images of natural scenes" Perception 36(6) 830 – 839
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Depth from binocular half-occlusions in stereoscopic images of natural scenes
Laurie M Wilcox, Deepak C Lakra
Received 9 February 2006, in revised form 18 July 2006; published online 16 May 2007
Abstract. Over the past two decades psychophysical experiments have firmly established that binocular half-occlusions are useful sources of information for the human visual system. The existing literature has focused on simplified stimuli that have no additional cues to depth, apart from stereopsis. From this large body of work we can be confident that the visual system is able to exploit binocular half-occlusions to aid depth perception; however, we do not know if this signal has any influence on perception when observers view complex stereoscopic stimuli with multiple sources of depth information. This issue is addressed here with the use of stereoscopic images of natural scenes, some of which have been digitally altered to manipulate a major half-occlusion signal. Our results show that depth-ordering judgments for these relatively complex stimuli are significantly affected by the nature of the half-occlusion signal, but only when highly textured surfaces are viewed. Under such conditions, the replacement of a binocular half-occlusion with background texture slows reaction time relative to performance when the occluded region is consistent with the foreground object. This result is specific to conditions when the depth ordering is correct (ie not reversed) and depends upon the size of the half-occlusion. The influence of the half-occlusion information in the presence of potent depth cues such as perspective, texture gradient, shading, and interposition is convincing evidence that this information plays a significant role in human depth perception.
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