CONVEXITY AS A CUE FOR FIGURE-GROUND ASSIGNMENT: INVESTIGATING INHIBITION BETWEEN CONVEX AND CONCAVE REGIONS

  • Ami Eidels
  • Melissa Holt

Abstract

Convexity is a potent cue in figure-ground assignment. Convex regions are often perceived as figure whereas concave regions are perceived as background. Peterson suggested that shape properties, such as convexity, compete for awareness on both sides of an edge. The side with the stronger figure cues wins and is seen as figure, and at the same time inhibits the other side of the edge, which is seen as ground. The current study employs Townsend’s capacity coefficient to investigate whether a convex contour inhibits the processing of a concave contour when they are presented simultaneously. The results suggest that inhibition may occur, but can appear also when two convex areas or two concave areas are presented. The capacity coefficient may be affected by either inhibitory processes or by actual limitations in processing capacity, so further investigation is needed to discern the two.

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