Reverse correlation reveals how observers sample visual information when estimating three-dimensional shape.Vision Res. 2013 Jun 28; 86:115-27.VR
Human observers exhibit large systematic distance-dependent biases when estimating the three-dimensional (3D) shape of objects defined by binocular image disparities. This has led some to question the utility of disparity as a cue to 3D shape and whether accurate estimation of 3D shape is at all possible. Others have argued that accurate perception is possible, but only with large continuous perspective transformations of an object. Using a stimulus that is known to elicit large distance-dependent perceptual bias (random dot stereograms of elliptical cylinders) we show that contrary to these findings the simple adoption of a more naturalistic viewing angle completely eliminates this bias. Using behavioural psychophysics, coupled with a novel surface-based reverse correlation methodology, we show that it is binocular edge and contour information that allows for accurate and precise perception and that observers actively exploit and sample this information when it is available.