Recent studies on polarization perception have shown that humans are sensitive to patterned stimuli modulated by either angle of linear polarization (AoP) or degree of polarization (DoP). Here, we present a model of human polarization sensitivity that incorporates both AoP and DoP as spatially dependent input variables. Applying the model to both sinusoidal- and square-wave-modulated DoP and AoP inputs, we demonstrate the theoretical similarities and differences generated by such inputs. Our model indicates the following: (i) edge boundaries between two adjacent areas of different linear polarization are preserved for both AoP- and DoP-modulated stimuli; and (ii) compared with DoP stimuli, AoP stimuli generate greater luminance changes at the photoreceptor level, suggesting that AoP-modulated patterns are potentially more salient than DoP patterns. The computational model is supported experimentally with an optical test of the model comprising a radial diattenuating polarizing filter and modified liquid crystal displays generating DoP- and AoP-modulated outputs. Psychophysical measures of human sensitivity confirm the increased salience of AoP- relative to DoP-modulated stimuli. These findings have practical application to the selection of DoP- and AoP-modulated stimuli for the investigation of macular function and macular pigment density in healthy and diseased eyes.
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