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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 22, Iss. 4 — Apr. 1, 2005
  • pp: 587–592

Luminance correlations define human sensitivity to contrast resolution in natural images

Yury Petrov  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 22, Issue 4, pp. 587-592 (2005)

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Luminance patterns encode shape and surface structure of objects in our environment. Humans can detect gradations of 1%–2% of background luminance. Is this level of sensitivity to luminance gradations (contrast) determined by the amount of ecologically meaningful information available in natural scenes? In the first experiment, subjects discriminated natural images I from their “posterized” versions I ( n ) , in which the number of luminance gradations was reduced to n. In the second experiment, amplified residual images I res ( n ) I - I ( n ) were discriminated from white-noise images, which lack any luminance correlations and thus information content. Performance in the two experiments matched remarkably well. Furthermore, as a function of n, the signal detected in both experiments was well fitted by the mutual information between nearby image pixels in the residual image I res ( n ) . This suggests that human sensitivity to luminance contrast is optimized to extract ecologically useful information encoded by the luminance patterns of natural scenes.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(100.2810) Image processing : Halftone image reproduction
(100.5010) Image processing : Pattern recognition
(330.1800) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - contrast sensitivity
(330.5510) Vision, color, and visual optics : Psychophysics

Original Manuscript: May 25, 2004
Revised Manuscript: October 8, 2004
Manuscript Accepted: October 8, 2004
Published: April 1, 2005

Yury Petrov, "Luminance correlations define human sensitivity to contrast resolution in natural images," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, 587-592 (2005)

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