Detection of global structure in Glass patterns: implications for form vision

Vision Res. 1998 Oct;38(19):2933-47. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00109-6.


Glass (Nature 1969;223:578-580) patterns are random dot stimuli that generate a percept of global structure. To study the mechanisms underlying this global form perception, concentric, radial, hyperbolic, and parallel Glass patterns were constructed. Thresholds for detecting each type of pattern were measured by degrading the patterns through the addition of noise. Concentric patterns yielded the lowest thresholds for all subjects, while radial and hyperbolic patterns produced somewhat higher thresholds. For all subjects the parallel patterns produced the highest thresholds. Threshold measurements as a function of the area containing pattern structure provided evidence for global pooling of orientation information in the detection of radial and concentric Glass patterns but only local pooling in the detection of parallel patterns. Monte-Carlo simulations demonstrate that plausible neural models can accurately predict the data. These models indicate that the visual system contains networks that pool orientation information within regions 3.5-4.5 degrees in diameter in central vision. This pooling is organized to extract cross-shaped, X-shaped, and quasi-circular forms from the retinal image. The results are in good agreement with recent single unit physiology of primate area V4, an intermediate level of the form vision pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Graphics
  • Form Perception*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Psychological Tests