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Contrast adaptation may enhance contrast discrimination

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Whether contrast adaptation may enhance contrast discrimination is a question that has remained largely unresolved because of conflicting empirical evidence. Greenlee and Heitger (1988), for example, reported that contrast discrimination may be enhanced after contrast adaptation, while Maattanen and Koenderink (1991) did not. This paper aimed to account for the different conclusions reached by these independent researchers by manipulations of key differences that exist between the two studies. It is shown that contrast discrimination may be enhanced after adaptation, but that these effects can vary markedly across subjects and test conditions. Enhancements in contrast discrimination are reported to be significant when adapting and testing at low levels of contrast, but just significant at higher levels of contrast. For high contrast signals, enhancements are shown to be independent of temporal frequency but dependent upon viewing conditions. Under binocular viewing conditions, enhancements in contrast discrimination thresholds are shown to be significantly higher than under monocular viewing conditions. It is suggested that the different conclusions reached by Greenlee and Heitger and by Maattanen and Koenderink may be explained by their respective differences in viewing conditions. The former study used binocular, while the latter study used monocular viewing with an occluding eyepatch.


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