Convergent evidence for global processing of shape

Robert Green, James Dickinson, David Badcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


There is an ongoing debate over whether there is convincing evidence in support of global contour integration in shape discrimination tasks, particularly when using radial frequency (RF) patterns as stimuli (Baldwin, Schmidtmann, Kingdom, & Hess, 2016). The objection lies in the previous use of high-threshold theory (HTT), rather than signal detection theory (SDT) to model the probability summation estimates of observer thresholds to determine whether integration of information is occurring around the contour. Here we used a discrimination at threshold method to establish evidence of global processing of two frequently used RF patterns (RF3 and RF5) that does not require mathematical modeling. To provide a bridge between current and past research we examined the two proposed methods, finding that HTT produced probability summation estimates that were more conservative than SDT (when an appropriate number of channels was used to generate estimates). We found no difference in observer thresholds when an RF pattern was presented as the only test stimulus in a block of trials or when two RF patterns were interleaved, and no evidence for a decrease in psychometric slopes with increasing numbers of stimulus elements. These findings are contrary to what is predicted by SDT for a stimulus whose detection conforms to probability summation. Therefore, our results find no evidence that supports probability summation, further demonstrating the importance of using random phase RF patterns while measuring integration around a contour and providing strong evidence for global shape processing around low frequency RF patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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