Abstract

A number of studies have measured visual thresholds for detecting spatial distortions applied to images of natural scenes. In one study, Bex [J. Vis. 10(2), 1 (2010) [CrossRef]  ] measured sensitivity to sinusoidal spatial modulations of image scale. Here, we measure sensitivity to sinusoidal scale distortions applied to the chromatic, luminance, or both layers of natural scene images. We first established that sensitivity does not depend on whether the undistorted comparison image was of the same or of a different scene. Next, we found that, when the luminance but not chromatic layer was distorted, performance was the same regardless of whether the chromatic layer was present, absent, or phase-scrambled; in other words, the chromatic layer, in whatever form, did not affect sensitivity to the luminance layer distortion. However, when the chromatic layer was distorted, sensitivity was higher when the luminance layer was intact compared to when absent or phase-scrambled. These detection threshold results complement the appearance of periodic distortions of the image scale: when the luminance layer is distorted visibly, the scene appears distorted, but when the chromatic layer is distorted visibly, there is little apparent scene distortion. We conclude that (a) observers have a built-in sense of how a normal image of a natural scene should appear, and (b) the detection of distortion in, as well as the apparent distortion of, natural scene images is mediated predominantly by the luminance layer and not chromatic layer.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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