Illumination discrimination in real and simulated scenes

J Vis. 2016 Sep 1;16(11):2. doi: 10.1167/16.11.2.

Abstract

Characterizing humans' ability to discriminate changes in illumination provides information about the visual system's representation of the distal stimulus. We have previously shown that humans are able to discriminate illumination changes and that sensitivity to such changes depends on their chromatic direction. Probing illumination discrimination further would be facilitated by the use of computer-graphics simulations, which would, in practice, enable a wider range of stimulus manipulations. There is no a priori guarantee, however, that results obtained with simulated scenes generalize to real illuminated scenes. To investigate this question, we measured illumination discrimination in real and simulated scenes that were well-matched in mean chromaticity and scene geometry. Illumination discrimination thresholds were essentially identical for the two stimulus types. As in our previous work, these thresholds varied with illumination change direction. We exploited the flexibility offered by the use of graphics simulations to investigate whether the differences across direction are preserved when the surfaces in the scene are varied. We show that varying the scene's surface ensemble in a manner that also changes mean scene chromaticity modulates the relative sensitivity to illumination changes along different chromatic directions. Thus, any characterization of sensitivity to changes in illumination must be defined relative to the set of surfaces in the scene.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Simulation
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lighting*
  • Male
  • Young Adult