Abstract

The existence of a special second-order mechanism in the human visual system, able to demodulate the envelope of visual stimuli, suggests that spatial information contained in the image envelope may be perceptually relevant. The Riesz transform, a natural isotropic extension of the Hilbert transform to multidimensional signals, was used here to demodulate band-pass filtered images of well-known visual illusions of length, size, direction, and shape. We show that the local amplitude of the monogenic signal or envelope of each illusion image conveys second-order information related to image holistic spatial structure, whereas the local phase component conveys information about the spatial features. Further low-pass filtering of the illusion image envelopes creates physical distortions that correspond to the subjective distortions perceived in the illusory images. Therefore the envelope seems to be the image component that physically carries the spatial information about these illusions. This result contradicts the popular belief that the relevant spatial information to perceive geometrical-optical illusions is conveyed only by the lower spatial frequencies present in their Fourier spectrum.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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