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Consistent and robust determination of border ownership based on asymmetric surrounding contrast.


Determination of the figure region in an image is a fundamental step toward surface construction, shape coding, and object representation. Localized, asymmetric surround modulation, reported neurophysiologically in early-to-intermediate-level visual areas, has been proposed as a mechanism for figure-ground segregation. We investigated, computationally, whether such surround modulation is capable of yielding consistent and robust determination of figure side for various stimuli. Our surround modulation model showed a surprisingly high consistency among pseudorandom block stimuli, with greater consistency for stimuli that yielded higher accuracy of, and shorter reaction times in, human perception. Our analyses revealed that the localized, asymmetric organization of surrounds is crucial in the detection of the contrast imbalance that leads to the determination of the direction of figure with respect to the border. The model also exhibited robustness for gray-scaled natural images, with a mean correct rate of 67%, which was similar to that of figure-side determination in human perception through a small window and of machine-vision algorithms based on local processing. These results suggest a crucial role of surround modulation in the local processing of figure-ground segregation.


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  • Authors+Show Affiliations


    Department of Computer Science, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan.

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    Contrast Sensitivity
    Models, Neurological
    Pattern Recognition, Automated
    Photic Stimulation
    Random Allocation

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID