Blur and contrast as pictorial depth cues

Perception. 1997;26(5):599-612. doi: 10.1068/p260599.


Studies have shown that blur can act as a pictorial cue to depth perception. But blurring a stimulus reduces its contrast, and studies have also shown that contrast can act as a pictorial cue to depth perception. To determine whether blur and contrast have separate influences on depth perception, each variable was independently manipulated in two experiments. Observers reported depth alternations in a simple reversible figure. Both contrast and blur were found to influence depth perception, but blur had its greatest effect at moderate contrasts. When blurred and sharp stimuli were equated on either Michelson or RMS contrast, blur continued to affect depth perception. Hence blur can act as a depth cue independently of contrast. It is speculated that blur is effective as a pictorial cue because of its usual association with other depth cues, particularly in pictures and photographs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Distortion*