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Effects of orientation and contrast upon targets in straight and curved arrays

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journal contribution
posted on 19.02.2014 by Michael W. Levine, Jennifer E. Anderson, J. Jason McAnany
A regular array of black squares against a gray background increases the threshold for a light disk in an intersection of the alleys separating the squares, an illusion variously called the extinction illusion, "blanking" phenomenon, or "vanishing disk". Curving the alleys (making the squares into curved "tetragons") further increases the thresholds for both light and dark disks. This raises three questions: (1) Do the edges of the tetragons interact with similarly oriented components of a target? (2) Is blanking a different phenomenon from the obscuring (more moderate increase in threshold in the presence of an array) that affects dark disks, or is blanking simply weaker for dark disks'? (3) Is blanking a function of light versus dark targets or dependent upon contrast relative to the polarity of the inducing array? We replaced the target disks with parallel line segments to explore the influence of orientation of the line segments relative to the nearby orientation of the alleys. We show that the blanking phenomenon is sensitive to the orientation of the line segments, while the weaker obscuring of dark targets is not. We also examine these effects with white tetragons. Reversing the polarity of the tetragons exchanged which line segments were orientation-sensitive, although the effectiveness of white tetragons for blanking was weaker than that of black tetragons. We consider possible reasons why white tetragons may be less effective than black tetragons under our conditions.


Publisher Statement

Levine, M. W., Anderson, J. E. and McAnany, J. J., 2012. The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Perception, Volume 41, Issue 12, Pages 1419-1433, 2012, DOI: 10.1068/p7237







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