Determining the orientation of depth-rotated familiar objects

Psychon Bull Rev. 2008 Feb;15(1):208-14. doi: 10.3758/pbr.15.1.208.


How does the human visual system determine the depth-orientation of familiar objects? We examined reaction times and errors in the detection of 15 degrees differences in the depth orientations of two simultaneously presented familiar objects, which were the same objects (Experiment 1) or different objects (Experiment 2). Detection of orientation differences was best for 0 degrees (front) and 180 degrees (back), while 45 degrees and 135 degrees yielded poorer results, and 90 degrees (side) showed intermediate results, suggesting that the visual system is tuned for front, side and back orientations. We further found that those advantages are due to orientation-specific features such as horizontal linear contours and symmetry, since the 90 degrees advantage was absent for objects with curvilinear contours, and asymmetric object diminished the 0 degrees and 180 degrees advantages. We conclude that the efficiency of visually determining object orientation is highly orientation-dependent, and object orientation may be perceived in favor of front-back axes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depth Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time