Spatial coherence does not affect contrast discrimination for multiple Gabor stimuli

Timothy S. Meese*, Robert F. Hess, Cristyn B. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gestalt grouping rules imply a process or mechanism for grouping together local features of an object into a perceptual whole. Several psychophysical experiments have been interpreted as evidence for constrained interactions between nearby spatial filter elements and this has led to the hypothesis that element linking might be mediated by these interactions. A common tacit assumption is that these interactions result in response modulation which disturbs a local contrast code. We addressed this possibility by performing contrast discrimination experiments using two-dimensional arrays of multiple Gabor patches arranged either (i) vertically, (ii) in circles (coherent conditions), or (iii) randomly (incoherent condition), as well as for a single Gabor patch. In each condition, contrast increments were applied to either the entire test stimulus (experiment 1) or a single patch whose position was cued (experiment 2). In experiment 3, the texture stimuli were reduced to a single contour by displaying only the central vertical strip. Performance was better for the multiple-patch conditions than for the single-patch condition, but whether the multiple-patch stimulus was coherent or not had no systematic effect on the results in any of the experiments. We conclude that constrained local interactions do not interfere with a local contrast code for our suprathreshold stimuli, suggesting that, in general, this is not the way in which element linking is achieved. The possibility that interactions are involved in enhancing the detectability of contour elements at threshold remains unchallenged by our experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1411-1422
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001


  • Gestalt grouping rules
  • spatial filter elements
  • interactions
  • local contrast code


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