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The Role of Occlusion in the Perception of Depth, Lightness, and Opacity Barton L. Anderson
 

Summary: The Role of Occlusion in the Perception of Depth, Lightness, and Opacity
Barton L. Anderson
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A theory is presented that explains how the visual system infers the lightness, opacity, and depth of
surfaces from stereoscopic images. It is shown that the polarity and magnitude of image contrast play
distinct roles in surface perception, which can be captured by 2 principles of perceptual inference. First,
a contrast depth asymmetry principle articulates how the visual system computes the ordinal depth and
lightness relationships from the polarity of local, binocularly matched image contrast. Second, a global
transmittance anchoring principle expresses how variations in contrast magnitudes are used to infer the
presence of transparent surfaces. It is argued that these principles provide a unified explanation of how
the visual system computes the 3-D surface structure of opaque and transparent surfaces.
The primary function of visual processing is to recover the
structure of the environment from the images on the retinas. One
of the main difficulties encountered in solving this problem stems
from the multiplicity of factors that act collectively to generate the
images. Illumination sources can vary in intensity, position, num-
ber, and spectral content, and surfaces can vary in albedo, color,
specularity, texture, depth, opacity, and orientation. This complex
array of interacting physical factors act collectively to generate the
2-D images that fall on the retinas. However, despite this com-

  

Source: Anderson, Barton L. - School of Psychology, University of Sydney

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine