More than 20 years ago, Tanner [ Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 89, 752 ( 1961)] noted that observers asked to detect a signal act as though they are uncertain about the physical characteristics of the signal to be detected. The popular assumptions of probability summation and decision variable, taken together, imply this uncertainty. This paper defines an uncertainty model of visual detection that assumes that the observer is uncertain among many signals and chooses the likeliest. With only four parameters, the uncertainty model explains why d′ is approximately a power function of contrast (“nonlinear transduction”) and accurately predicts effects of summation, facilitation, noise, subjective criterion, and task for near-threshold contrasts. Thus the uncertainty model offers a synthesis of much of our current understanding of visual contrast detection and discrimination.
© 1985 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: December 1, 1983
Manuscript Accepted: May 7, 1985
Published: September 1, 1985
Denis G. Pelli, "Uncertainty explains many aspects of visual contrast detection and discrimination," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 2, 1508-1532 (1985)