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The Paradox of Visual Scale

Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 01:00pm - 02:30pm

Busch Campus, Psych 105

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Abstract: The aim of this talk is to convince you that there is a paradox at the heart of visual scale. On the one hand, we know that in natural viewing conditions ‘triangulation’ cues to scale (vergence, accommodation, vertical disparities, and motion parallax) dominate ‘pictorial’ cues to scale (ground plane, familiar size, defocus blur). On the other hand, I will argue that none of the ‘triangulation’ cues to scale appear to be that effective when we study them in isolation. This leaves the question of what actually determines visual scale unresolved. I will go on to argue that the solution lies in horizontal disparities, which have traditionally been conceived as merely relative in nature. I then explore how this conclusion has important implications for (1) the neural processing of visual scale, (2) the ‘perception’ / ‘cognition’ distinction, (3) the ‘two visual streams’ debate, (4) binocular disparity processing, (5) visual cue integration, and (6) multisensory integration. I will conclude by suggesting that if all of our absolute distance cues turn out to be ineffective, relative, or merely cognitive, then we should be open to the idea that vision functions without absolute scale.  

 

Recommended readings:

Linton, P. ‘Does Vision Extract Absolute Distance from Vergence?’ (in press), Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics

Linton, P. ‘No Vergence Size Constancy’ (under review)

See also Linton, P., The Perception and Cognition of Visual Space (Palgrave, 2017)