The role of vertical mirror symmetry in visual shape detection

J Vis. 2009 Nov 18;9(12):11.1-11. doi: 10.1167/9.12.11.


The goal of our study is a better understanding of the role of vertical mirror symmetry in perceptual grouping. With a simple psychophysical task and a set of controlled stimuli, we investigated whether vertical mirror symmetry acts as a cue in figure-ground segregation. We asked participants to indicate which of two sequentially presented Gabor arrays contained a visual shape. The shape was defined by a subset of Gabor elements positioned along the outline of an unfamiliar shape. By adding orientation noise to these Gabor elements, the shape percept became less salient. Across the different noise levels, symmetric shapes were easier to detect than asymmetric ones. This finding indicates that vertical mirror symmetry is indeed used as a cue in perceptual grouping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics