The visual system's intrinsic bias influences space perception in the impoverished environment

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2014 Apr;40(2):626-38. doi: 10.1037/a0033034. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


A dimly lit target in the intermediate distance in the dark is judged at the intersection between the target's projection line from the eye to its physical location and an implicit slanted surface, which is the visual system's intrinsic bias. We hypothesize that the intrinsic bias also contributes to perceptual space in the impoverished environment. We first showed that a target viewed against sparse texture elements delineating the horizontal ground surface in the dark is localized along an implicit slanted surface that is less slanted than that of the intrinsic bias, reflecting the weighted integration of the weak texture information and intrinsic bias. We also showed that while the judged egocentric locations are similar between 0.15- to 5-s exposure durations, the judged precision improves with duration. Furthermore, the precision for the judged target angular declination does not vary with the physical angular declination and is better than the precision of the eye-to-target distance. Second, we used both action and perceptual tasks to directly reveal the perceived surface slant. Confirming our hypothesis, we found that an L-shaped target on the horizontal ground with sparse texture information is perceived with a slant that is less than that of the intrinsic bias.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Distance Perception / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Space Perception / physiology*