Object and head orientation effects on symmetry perception defined by shape from shading.

P. Wenderoth*, N. Hickey

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    A grey disc which exhibits a vertical gradient of shading usually appears convex if lighter above and concave if lighter below. This phenomenon was investigated by Howard et al (1990) who varied both the shading axis relative to gravity and the orientation of the head. Their results indicated that head-centric or retinocentric coordinates determined the depth effect rather than gravitational axes. However, several possible problems with their study were noted, not the least of which was the possible intrusion of response rather than perceptual factors in the task they used. Here, we attempted to use an indirect measure of the perception of depth from shading; rather than asking subjects whether discs looked convex or concave, we constructed ensembles of shaded discs which, in terms of depth from shading, were or were not bilaterally symmetrical about an horizontal axis. These stimulus displays were briefly flashed to prohibit the intrusion of conscious assumptions about direction of light sources. Subjects were never asked whether any discs looked concave or convex, merely whether the set of discs was or was not depth symmetrical. Results were generally consistent with those of Howard et al and supported the conclusion that depth from shading is largely a low-level and automatic mechanism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1121-1130
    Number of pages10
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1993

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