Previous work has shown that human vision performs spatial integration of luminance contrast energy, where signals are squared and summed (with internal noise) over area at detection threshold. We tested that model here in an experiment using arrays of micro-pattern textures that varied in overall stimulus area and sparseness of their target elements, where the contrast of each element was normalised for sensitivity across the visual field. We found a power-law improvement in performance with stimulus area, and a decrease in sensitivity with sparseness. While the contrast integrator model performed well when target elements constituted 50–100% of the target area (replicating previous results), observers outperformed the model when texture elements were sparser than this. This result required the inclusion of further templates in our model, selective for grids of various regular texture densities. By assuming a MAX operation across these noisy mechanisms the model also accounted for the increase in the slope of the psychometric function that occurred as texture density decreased. Thus, for the first time, mechanisms that are selective for texture density have been revealed at contrast detection threshold. We suggest that these mechanisms have a role to play in the perception of visual textures.
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Funding: EPSRC (EP/H000038/1), Wellcome Trust (ref: 105624)