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Contribution of Disparity to the Perception of 3D Shape as Revealed by Bistability of Stereoscopic Necker Cubes

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

The Necker cube is a famous demonstration of ambiguity in visual perception of 3D shape. Its bistability is attributed to indecisiveness because monocular cues do not allow the observer to infer one particular 3D shape from the 2D image. A remarkable but not appreciated observation is that Necker cubes are bistable during binocular viewing. One would expect disparity information to veto bistability. To investigate the effect of zero and non-zero disparity on perceptual bistability in detail, perceptual dominance durations were measured for luminance- and disparity-defined Necker cubes. Luminance-defined Necker cubes were bistable for all tested disparities between the front and back faces of the cubes. Absence of an effect of disparity on dominance durations suggested the suppression of disparity information. Judgments of depth between the front and back sides of the Necker cubes, however, showed that disparity affected perceived depth. Disparity-defined Necker cubes were also bistable but dominance durations showed different distributions. I propose a framework for 3D shape perception in which 3D shape is inferred from pictorial cues acting on luminance- and disparity-defined 2D shapes.

Affiliations: 1: Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands


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