A unified model of illusory and occluded contour interpolation

Vision Res. 2010 Feb 8;50(3):284-99. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2009.10.011. Epub 2009 Oct 21.


Models of contour interpolation have been proposed for illusory contour interpolation but seldom for interpolation of occluded contours. The identity hypothesis (Kellman & Loukides, 1987; Kellman & Shipley, 1991) posits that an early interpolation mechanism is shared by interpolated contours that are ultimately perceived as either illusory or occluded. Here we propose a model of such a unified interpolation mechanism for illusory and occluded contours, building on the framework established in Heitger, von der Heydt, Peterhans, Rosenthaler, and Kubler (1998). We show that a single, neurally plausible mechanism that is consistent with the identity hypothesis also generates contour interpolations in agreement with perception for cases of transparency, self-splitting objects, interpolation with mixed boundary assignment, and "quasimodal" interpolations. Limiting cases for this local, feed-forward approach are presented, demonstrating that both early, local interpolation mechanisms and non-local scene constraints are necessary for describing the perception of interpolated contours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Optical Illusions*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Visual Perception*