Symmetry: Modeling the Effects of Masking Noise, Axial Cueing and Salience

Chen, C. C. & Tyler, C. W. (2010). Symmetry: Modeling the Effects of Masking Noise, Axial Cueing and Salience. PLoS ONE, 5(4), p. 9840. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009840

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Abstract

Symmetry detection is an interesting probe of pattern processing because it requires the matching of novel patterns without the benefit of prior recognition. However, there is evidence that prior knowledge of the axis location plays an important role in symmetry detection. We investigated how the prior information about the symmetry axis affects symmetry detection under noise-masking conditions. The target stimuli were random-dot displays structured to be symmetric about vertical, horizontal, or diagonal axes and viewed through eight apertures (1.2u diameter) evenly distributed around a 6u diameter circle. The information about axis orientation was manipulated by (1) cueing of axis orientation before the trial and (2) varying axis salience by including or excluding the axis region within the noise apertures. The percentage of correct detection of the symmetry was measured at for a range of both target and masking noise densities. The threshold vs. noise density function was flat at low noise density and increased with a slope of 0.75–0.8 beyond a critical density. Axis cueing reduced the target threshold 2–4fold at all noise densities while axis salience had an effect only at high noise density. Our results are inconsistent with an ideal observer or signal-to-noise account of symmetry detection but can be explained by a multiple-channel model is which the response in each channel is the ratio between the nonlinear transform of the responses of sets of early symmetry detectors and the sum of external and intrinsic sources of noise.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Optometry & Visual Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/9323

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