OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 71, Iss. 9 — Sep. 1, 1981
  • pp: 1056–1063

Visual form perception and the spatial phase transfer function

G. J. Burton and I. R. Moorhead  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 71, Issue 9, pp. 1056-1063 (1981)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (1374 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



The quality of many imaging devices can be characterized, within certain constraints, by means of the modulation transfer function (MTF) and the phase transfer function (PTF). In many cases, it is possible to estimate, qualitatively, the effect of the MTF on the appearance of objects, and much progress has been made in making quantitative predictions of the detectability of objects and features within objects. This is not the case, however, for the PTF, and its influence is often neglected, even though nonideal PTF’s obviously may degrade image quality. Experiments are described that attempt to assess the significance of the PTF for human visual performance. The effects of various PTF’s were simulated by means of a technique that maintained the modulation of the spatial-frequency components closely constant. The visual detectability of such phase changes was measured by a discrimination method, and phase threshold levels were evaluated. Simple linear patterns provided the targets for all measurements, although some images are shown that illustrate qualitatively the phase-shift results on real two-dimensional targets. The work enables an assessment to be made of the effects of phase changes produced by various imaging systems.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

G. J. Burton and I. R. Moorhead, "Visual form perception and the spatial phase transfer function," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 71, 1056-1063 (1981)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. J. Nachmias and R. V. Sansbury, "Grating contrast: discrimination may be better than detection," Vision Res. 14, 1039–1042 (1974).
  2. J. J. Kulikowski, "Effective contrast constancy and linearity of contrast sensation," Vision Res. 16, 1419–1431 (1976).
  3. C. R. Carlson and R. W. Cohen, "Visibility of displayed information, Rep. no. PRRL-78-CR-34, RCA Laboratories, Princeton, N.J. (July 1978).
  4. G. J. Burton, "Contrast discrimination by the human visual system," Biol. Cybernetics 40, 27–38 (1981).
  5. R. C. Gonzalez and P. Wintz, Digital Image Processing (Addison-Wesley, London, 1977).
  6. K. J. Rosenbruck and R. Gershler, "Die Bedeutung der Phasenübertragungsfunktion und der Modulationsübertragungsfunktion bei der Benutzung der OTF als Bildgüterkriterium," Optik 55, 173–182 (1980).
  7. G. Westheimer, "Spatial phase sensitivity for sinusoidal grating targets," Vision Res. 18, 1073–1074 (1978).
  8. D. Burr, "Sensitivity to spatial phase," Vision Res. 20, 391–396 (1980).
  9. B. H. Crawford, Physical Photometry, National Physical Laboratory Notes on Applied Science no. 29 (H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1962).
  10. T. N. Cornsweet, "The staircase method in psychophysics," Am. J. Psychol. 75, 485–491 (1962).
  11. D. H. Kelly and R. E. Savoie, "A study of sine-wave contrast sensitivity by two psychophysical methods," Percep. Psychophys. 14, 313–318 (1973).
  12. J. J. Mezrich, C. R. Carlson, and R. W. Cohen, "Image descriptors for displays," Rep. no. PRRL-77-CR-7, RCA Laboratories, Princeton, N.J. (February 1977).
  13. F. W. Campbell and J. G. Robson, "Application of Fourier analysis to the visibility of gratings," J. Physiol. London 197, 551–566 (1965).
  14. P. W. Cobb and F. K. Moss, "The four variables of the visual threshold," J. Franklin Inst. 205, 831–847 (1928).
  15. J. Nachmias, "Effect of exposure duration on visual contrast sensitivity with square-wave gratings," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 57, 421–427 (1967).
  16. H. R. Blackwell, "Contrast thresholds of the human eye," J. Opt .Soc. Am. 36, 624–643 (1946).
  17. L. C. Martin, Technical Optics. Vol. II (Pitman, London, 1960).
  18. M. B. Sachs, J. Nachmias, and J. G. Robson, "Spatial-frequency channels in human vision," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 61, 1176–1186 (1971).
  19. I. Overington, Vision and Acquisition (Pentech, London, 1976).
  20. G. Hauske, W. Wolf, and U. Lupp, "Matched filters in human vision," Biol. Cybernetics 22, 181–188 (1976).
  21. G. J. Burton, "Visual detection model for static targets," presented at Symposium on Visual Modelling for Operational Research, Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, Wilts, United Kingdom, January, 1978.

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited