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Lightness, illumination, and gradients

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

The illumination interpretation approach claims that lightness illusions can be explained as misapplications of lightness constancy mechanisms, processes which usually enable veridical extraction of surface reflectance from luminance distributions by discounting illumination. In particular, luminance gradients are thought to provide cues about the interactions of light and surfaces. Several examples of strong lightness illusions are discussed for which explanations based on illumination interpretation can be proposed. In criticisms of this approach, a variety of demonstrations of similarly structured control displays are presented, which involve equivalent lightness effects that cannot readily be accounted for by illumination interpretation mechanisms. Furthermore, a number of known and novel displays are presented that demonstrate effects of gradients on the qualitative appearance of uniform regions. Finally, some simple simulations of neural effects of luminance distributions are discussed.


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