Ecologically valid combinations of first- and second-order surface markings facilitate texture discrimination

Vision Res. 2007 Aug;47(17):2281-90. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2007.05.003. Epub 2007 Jul 5.


Natural scenes contain localized variations in both first-order (luminance) and second-order (contrast and texture) information. There is much evidence that first- and second-order stimuli are detected by distinct mechanisms in the mammalian visual system. However, in natural scenes the two kinds of information tend to be spatially correlated. Do correlated and uncorrelated combinations of first- and second-order stimuli differentially affect perception? To address this question we employed orientation-modulated textures in which observers were required to discriminate the spatial frequency of the texture modulation. The textures consisted of micropatterns defined as either local variations in luminance (first-order) or luminance contrast (second-order). Performance was robust with textures composed of only first-order micropatterns, but impossible with only second-order micropatterns. However, when the second-order micropatterns were combined with the first-order micropatterns, they enhanced performance when the two were spatially correlated, but impaired performance when the two were spatially uncorrelated. We conclude that local second-order information may enhance texture modulation discrimination provided it is combined with first-order information in an ecologically valid manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychophysics