Along with physical luminance, the perceived brightness is known to depend on the spatial structure of the stimulus. Often it is assumed that neural computation of the brightness is based on the analysis of luminance borders of the stimulus. However, this has not been tested directly. We introduce a new variant of the psychophysical reverse-correlation or classification image method to estimate and localize the physical features of the stimuli which correlate with the perceived brightness, using a brightness-matching task. We derive classification images for the illusory Craik-O'Brien-Cornsweet stimulus and a "real" uniform step stimulus. For both stimuli, classification images reveal a positive peak at the stimulus border, along with a negative peak at the background, but are flat at the center of the stimulus, suggesting that brightness is determined solely by the border information. Features in the perceptually completed area in the Craik-O'Brien-Cornsweet do not contribute to its brightness, nor could we see low-frequency boosting, which has been offered as an explanation for the illusion. Tuning of the classification image profiles changes remarkably little with stimulus size. This supports the idea that only certain spatial scales are used for computing the brightness of a surface.
Fields of Science
- 515 Psychology