Trade-off between achromatic colour and perceived illumination as revealed by the use of pseudoscopic inversion of apparent depth

Perception. 1994;23(9):1007-23. doi: 10.1068/p231007.


The albedo hypothesis was tested under apparent transformations of perceived illumination and achromatic colour induced by pseudoscopic inversion of apparent depth. Looking through a pseudoscope made a cone attached to a vertical white screen look like a conical hole in the screen. This in turn caused the shadow which the now 'invisible' cone cast on the screen to change its appearance and to look like a darkly pigmented area. The darkness of the shadow before the pseudoscopic reversal and greyness of colour afterwards were measured by means of psychophysical scales for darkness and greyness set by the bisection method. Contrast of the shaded area was varied from 0.17 to 0.96 in 7 steps, the mean illuminance of the screen having been maintained at 40 1x. Although the albedo hypothesis in its classical form was not confirmed, it was found that darkness of shadow varied linearly in inverse proportion to greyness of colour within the entire contrast range. This is in agreement with the hypothesis that achromatic colour and perceived illumination are inversely proportional to each other while the retinal illumination is constant.

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception*
  • Contrast Sensitivity*
  • Darkness
  • Depth Perception*
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Light*
  • Models, Biological
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Surface Properties
  • Vision Tests* / instrumentation*