Early completion of occluded objects

Vision Research 38:2489-2505 (1998)
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We show that early vision can use monocular cues to rapidly complete partially-occluded objects. Visual search for easily detected fragments becomes difficult when the completed shape is similar to others in the display; conversely, search for fragments that are difficult to detect becomes easy when the completed shape is distinctive. Results indicate that completion occurs via the occlusion-triggered removal of occlusion edges and linking of associated regions. We fail to find evidence for a visible filling-in of contours or surfaces, but do find evidence for a "functional" filling-in that prevents the constituent fragments from being rapidly accessed. As such, it is only the completed structures—and not the fragments themselves—that serve as the basis for rapid recognition.
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