Tolhurst D J, Tadmor Y, 2000, "Discrimination of spectrally blended natural images: Optimisation of the human visual system for encoding natural images" Perception 29(9) 1087 – 1100
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Discrimination of spectrally blended natural images: Optimisation of the human visual system for encoding natural images
David J Tolhurst, Yoav Tadmor
Received 25 November 1999; in revised form 12 May 2000
Abstract. We have developed a protocol for testing experimentally the hypothesis that the human visual system is optimised for making visual discriminations amongst natural scenes. Visual stimuli were made by gradual blending of the Fourier spectra of digitised photographs of natural scenes. The statistics of the stimuli were made unnatural to varying degrees by changing the overall slopes of the amplitude spectra of the stimuli. Thresholds were measured for discriminating small amounts of spectral blending at different spectral slopes. We found that thresholds were lowest when the spectral slope was natural; thresholds were increased when the slopes were either shallower or steeper than natural. A number of spurious cues were considered, such as differences in mean luminance or overall spectral power or contrast between test and reference stimuli. Control experiments were performed to remove such spurious cues, and the discrimination thresholds were still lowest for stimuli that were most natural. Thus, these experiments do provide experimental support for the idea that human vision and the human visual system are optimised for processing natural visual information.
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