Occlusion cues contribute to orientation judgments of occlusion-defined contours

Percept Psychophys. 1993 Dec;54(6):706-15. doi: 10.3758/bf03211796.


Occlusion cues defining a contour in a 2-D stimulus pattern were shown to contribute to the accuracy of orientation judgments of that contour. The stimulus pattern was altered so that the occlusion cues became ambiguous, by introducing a textured background suggesting transparency of the stimulus pattern. Orientation judgments then became significantly less accurate. This finding shows that occlusion cues in 2-D patterns can be behaviorally relevant, in addition to generating the subjective percept commonly known as an illusory contour. The disruptive effect of the textured background on orientation judgments remained when no texture elements were present in the vicinity of the contour. This suggests that the generation of occlusion-defined contours relies as much on an evaluation of the surfaces at either side of the contour as being opaque as it does on local encoding of occlusion cues close to the contour. Finally, orientation sensitivity measured with contours defined by other than occlusion cues was not altered after the introduction of a textured background.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Form Perception*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Optical Illusions
  • Orientation*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Perception