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Detection of bilateral symmetry using spatial filters

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

When bilaterally symmetric images are spatially filtered and thresholded, a subset of the resultant 'blobs' cluster around the axis of symmetry. Consequently, a quantitative measure of blob alignment can be used to code the degree of symmetry and to locate the axis of symmetry. Four alternative models were tested to examine which components of this scheme might be involved in human detection of symmetry. Two used a blob-alignment measure, operating on the output of either isotropic or oriented filters. The other two used similar filtering schemes, but measured symmetry by calculating the correlation of one half of the pattern with a reflection of the other. Simulations compared the effect of spatial jitter, proportion of matched to unmatched dots and width or location of embedded symmetrical regions, on models' detection of symmetry. Only the performance of the oriented filter + blob-alignment model was consistent with human performance in all conditions. It is concluded that the degree of feature co-alignment in the output of oriented filters is the cue used by human vision to perform these tasks. The broader computational role that feature alignment detection could play in early vision is discussed, particularly for object detection and image segmentation. In this framework, symmetry is a consequence of a more general-purpose grouping scheme.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA, UK


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