Binocular fusion, suppression and diplopia for blurred edges

Mark A. Georgeson*, Stuart A. Wallis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: (1) To devise a model-based method for estimating the probabilities of binocular fusion, interocular suppression and diplopia from psychophysical judgements, (2) To map out the way fusion, suppression and diplopia vary with binocular disparity and blur of single edges shown to each eye, (3) To compare the binocular interactions found for edges of the same vs opposite contrast polarity. Methods: Test images were single, horizontal, Gaussian-blurred edges, with blur B = 1-32 min arc, and vertical disparity 0-8.B, shown for 200 ms. In the main experiment, observers reported whether they saw one central edge, one offset edge, or two edges. We argue that the relation between these three response categories and the three perceptual states (fusion, suppression, diplopia) is indirect and likely to be distorted by positional noise and criterion effects, and so we developed a descriptive, probabilistic model to estimate both the perceptual states and the noise/criterion parameters from the data. Results: (1) Using simulated data, we validated the model-based method by showing that it recovered fairly accurately the disparity ranges for fusion and suppression, (2) The disparity range for fusion (Panum's limit) increased greatly with blur, in line with previous studies. The disparity range for suppression was similar to the fusion limit at large blurs, but two or three times the fusion limit at small blurs. This meant that diplopia was much more prevalent at larger blurs, (3) Diplopia was much more frequent when the two edges had opposite contrast polarity. A formal comparison of models indicated that fusion occurs for same, but not opposite, polarities. Probability of suppression was greater for unequal contrasts, and it was always the lower-contrast edge that was suppressed. Conclusions: Our model-based data analysis offers a useful tool for probing binocular fusion and suppression psychophysically. The disparity range for fusion increased with edge blur but fell short of complete scale-invariance. The disparity range for suppression also increased with blur but was not close to scale-invariance. Single vision occurs through fusion, but also beyond the fusion range, through suppression. Thus suppression can serve as a mechanism for extending single vision to larger disparities, but mainly for sharper edges where the fusion range is small (5-10 min arc). For large blurs the fusion range is so much larger that no such extension may be needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-185
Number of pages23
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The Authors Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics © 2014 The College of Optometrists. Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY).

This work was funded by the BBSRC(UK); grant number BB/H00159X/1.


  • binocular fusion
  • blur
  • contrast polarity
  • diplopia
  • disparity
  • edges
  • interocular suppression


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