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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 22, Iss. 1 — Jan. 1, 2005
  • pp: 3–16

Efficiency of the human observer detecting random signals in random backgrounds

Subok Park, Eric Clarkson, Matthew A. Kupinski, and Harrison H. Barrett  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 22, Issue 1, pp. 3-16 (2005)

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The efficiencies of the human observer and the channelized-Hotelling observer relative to the ideal observer for signal-detection tasks are discussed. Both signal-known-exactly (SKE) tasks and signal-known-statistically (SKS) tasks are considered. Signal location is uncertain for the SKS tasks, and lumpy backgrounds are used for background uncertainty in both cases. Markov chain Monte Carlo methods are employed to determine ideal-observer performance on the detection tasks. Psychophysical studies are conducted to compute human-observer performance on the same tasks. Efficiency is computed as the squared ratio of the detectabilities of the observer of interest to the ideal observer. Human efficiencies are approximately 2.1% and 24%, respectively, for the SKE and SKS tasks. The results imply that human observers are not affected as much as the ideal observer by signal-location uncertainty even though the ideal observer outperforms the human observer for both tasks. Three different simplified pinhole imaging systems are simulated, and the humans and the model observers rank the systems in the same order for both the SKE and the SKS tasks.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(110.3000) Imaging systems : Image quality assessment
(330.5510) Vision, color, and visual optics : Psychophysics
(330.6100) Vision, color, and visual optics : Spatial discrimination

Original Manuscript: February 2, 2004
Revised Manuscript: July 30, 2004
Published: January 1, 2005

Subok Park, Eric Clarkson, Matthew A. Kupinski, and Harrison H. Barrett, "Efficiency of the human observer detecting random signals in random backgrounds," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, 3-16 (2005)

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