Controlling low-level image properties: the SHINE toolbox

Behav Res Methods. 2010 Aug;42(3):671-84. doi: 10.3758/BRM.42.3.671.


Visual perception can be influenced by top-down processes related to the observer's goals and expectations, as well as by bottom-up processes related to low-level stimulus attributes, such as luminance, contrast, and spatial frequency. When using different physical stimuli across psychological conditions, one faces the problem of disentangling the contributions of low- and high-level factors. Here, we make available the SHINE (spectrum, histogram, and intensity normalization and equalization) toolbox for MATLAB, which we have found useful for controlling a number of image properties separately or simultaneously. The toolbox features functions for specifying the (rotational average of the) Fourier amplitude spectra, for normalizing and scaling mean luminance and contrast, and for exact histogram specification optimized for perceptual visual quality. SHINE can thus be employed for parametrically modifying a number of image properties or for equating them across stimuli to minimize potential low-level confounds in studies on higher level processes.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Calibration
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reference Values
  • Software*