Abstract

The context in which a pattern is viewed can greatly affect its apparent contrast, a phenomenon commonly attributed to pooled contrast gain control processes. A low-contrast surround may slightly enhance apparent contrast, whereas increasing the contrast of the surround leads to a monotonic decline in contrast appearance. We ask here how the presence of a patterned surround affects the ability to perform fine, suprathreshold orientation, contrast, and spatial frequency discriminations as a function of surround contrast and phase. Our results revealed an unexpected dip in performance when center and surround were in phase and similar in contrast. These results suggest that additional processes, perhaps those involved in scene segregation, play a role in contextual effects on discrimination.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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