Contrast discrimination and pattern masking: contrast gain control with fixed additive noise

Mark A. Georgeson, Timothy S. Meese

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

We studied the visual mechanisms that serve to encode spatial contrast at threshold and supra-threshold levels. In a 2AFC contrast-discrimination task, observers had to detect the presence of a vertical 1 cycle deg-1 test grating (of contrast dc) that was superimposed on a similar vertical 1 cycle deg-1 pedestal grating, whereas in pattern masking the test grating was accompanied by a very different masking grating (horizontal 1 cycle deg-1, or oblique 3 cycles deg-1). When expressed as threshold contrast (dc at 75% correct) versus mask contrast (c) our results confirm previous ones in showing a characteristic 'dipper function' for contrast discrimination but a smoothly increasing threshold for pattern masking. However, fresh insight is gained by analysing and modelling performance (p; percent correct) as a joint function of (c, dc) - the performance surface. In contrast discrimination, psychometric functions (p versus logdc) are markedly less steep when c is above threshold, but in pattern masking this reduction of slope did not occur. We explored a standard gain-control model with six free parameters. Three parameters control the contrast response of the detection mechanism and one parameter weights the mask contrast in the cross-channel suppression effect. We assume that signal-detection performance (d') is limited by additive noise of constant variance. Noise level and lapse rate are also fitted parameters of the model. We show that this model accounts very accurately for the whole performance surface in both types of masking, and thus explains the threshold functions and the pattern of variation in psychometric slopes. The cross-channel weight is about 0.20. The model shows that the mechanism response to contrast increment (dc) is linearised by the presence of pedestal contrasts but remains nonlinear in pattern masking.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004
EventMovements and moments in vision research. 8th Applied Vision Association Christmas Meeting - Aston University, Birmingham (UK)
Duration: 17 Dec 2003 → …

Other

OtherMovements and moments in vision research. 8th Applied Vision Association Christmas Meeting
CityAston University, Birmingham (UK)
Period17/12/03 → …

Bibliographical note

Abstract published in Eighth Applied Vision Association Christmas Meeting, Perception, 34 (Suppl), pp. 754-755, ISSN: 0001-4966.

Keywords

  • encoding
  • spatial contrast
  • threshold levels
  • supra-threshold levels
  • contrast-discrimination

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