Abstract

Psychometric functions were determined concurrently for detection of simple gratings (luminance sinusoidally modulated with spatial frequency ƒ) and complex gratings (luminance modulated by the sum of two sinusoids, with frequencies ƒ and ƒ′). Results were used to test the hypothesis that the two components of a complex grating may be detected independently. In an extensive experiment with ƒ = 14 cycles/deg, the independence hypothesis was consistently rejected only when ƒ/ƒ′ = 5/4 or 4/5, but rarely rejected when the value of ƒ/ƒ′ lay outside this range. In other experiments, ƒ was between 1.9 and 22.4 cycles/deg. All results are compatible with the assumption that the human visual system contains sensory channels, each selectively sensitive to different narrow ranges of spatial frequencies, whose outputs are detected independently.

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