Neural Computation of Surface Border Ownership and Relative Surface Depth from Ambiguous Contrast Inputs

Frontiers in Psychology 7 (2016)
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The segregation of image parts into foreground and background is an important aspect of the neural computation of 3D scene perception. To achieve such segregation, the brain needs information about border ownership; that is, the belongingness of a contour to a specific surface represented in the image. This article presents psychophysical data derived from 3D percepts of figure and ground that were generated by presenting 2D images composed of spatially disjoint shapes that pointed inward or outward relative to the continuous boundaries that they induced along their collinear edges. The shapes in some images had the same contrast (black or white) with respect to the background gray. Other images included opposite contrasts along each induced continuous boundary. Psychophysical results demonstrate conditions under which figure-ground judgment probabilities in response to these ambiguous displays are determined by the orientation of contrasts only, not by their relative contrasts, despite the fact that many border ownership cells in cortical area V2 respond to a preferred relative contrast. Studies are also reviewed in which both polarity-specific and polarity-invariant properties obtain perceptual figure-ground grouping results. The FACADE and 3D LAMINART models are used to explain these data. Keywords: figure-ground separation, border ownership, perceptual grouping, surface filling-in, V2, V4, FACADE Theory

Author Profiles

Birgitta Dresp-Langley
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Stephen Grossberg
Boston University


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