Abstract

The shape of the temporal contrast-sensitivity function at low temporal frequencies is sensitive to the relative luminance of the test and the surround. We show that this effect is due to greater sensitivity, in different conditions, either to the internal luminance modulation in the test or to temporal changes in the spatial contrast at the edge of the test. We measured temporal contrast sensitivity in tests at various luminance levels combined with surrounds at levels of higher, lower, or equal luminance as the test; compared the sensitivity for contrast modulation to luminance modulation at different temporal frequencies; and compared temporal contrast sensitivity in uniform and textured surrounds of equal mean luminance. Temporal contrast sensitivity was similar on equiluminant steady and out-of-phase modulating surrounds, indicating that the measured sensitivity for small tests in equiluminant surrounds is based on the detection of the temporal modulation of the spatial contrast at the edge of the test field. For all temporal frequencies, contrast sensitivity decreased as a monotonic function of the absolute magnitude of the Michelson contrast between test and surround. When small test fields of moderate to high intensities are embedded in dark surrounds, the sensitivity at lower spatial frequencies is similar to the sensitivities measured for a large test and may reflect sensitivity for luminance modulation within the test.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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