Global processing of random-phase radial frequency patterns but not modulated lines

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Previously, researchers have used circular contours with sinusoidal deformations of the radius (radial frequency [RF] patterns) to investigate the underlying processing involved in simple shape perception. On finding that the rapid improvement in sensitivity to deformation as more cycles of modulation were added was greater than expected from probability summation across sets of local independent detectors, they concluded that global integration of contour information was occurring. More recently, this conclusion has been questioned by researchers using a method of calculating probability summation derived from signal detection theory (Baldwin, Schmidtmann, Kingdom, & Hess, 2016). They could not distinguish between global integration and probability summation. Furthermore, it has been argued that RF patterns and lines are processed in a similar manner (Mullen, Beaudot, & Ivanov, 2011; Schmidtmann & Kingdom, 2017). The current study investigates these claims using fixed-phase (in which the local elements have spatial certainty) and random-phase (in which the local elements have spatial uncertainty) RF patterns and modulated lines. Thresholds were collected from eight naiive observers and compared to probability summation estimates calculated using methods derived from both high threshold theory and signal detection theory. The results indicate global processing of random-phase RF patterns and evidence for an interaction between local and global cues for fixed-phase RF patterns. They also show no evidence of global integration with modulated line stimuli. The results provide further evidence for the global processing of random-phase RF patterns and indicate that RF patterns and modulated lines are processed differently.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

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