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Effects of 'local' clutter on human target detection

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

In theory, properties of clutter can be defined globally or locally. However, in the literature, the distinction between local and global clutter is arbitrary, where the standard approach of setting the local domain to twice the expected target size, in applying local clutter metrics, is adopted without any justification. This paper addresses this problem and considers the implications for the application of clutter metrics.

It was found that the size of the local clutter region around a target has a strong effect on the probability of detection of that target and that this is affected by regions much larger than twice the target size. It was also discovered that this effect was much stronger for targets subtending less than 0.8 degrees of visual angle than for larger targets. In the case of the former, the fall-off in human visual performance with clutter region size was approximately quadratic, compared to a slight linear fall-off for larger targets.

A simple model is presented explaining these phenomena, indicating that the auto-covariance function characterising the clutter is the main determinant of the size of the region of local clutter.

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