Time course of amodal completion revealed by a shape discrimination task
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We measured the extent of amodal completion as a function of stimulus duration over the range of 15-210 msec, for both moving and stationary stimuli. Completion was assessed using a performance-based measure; a shape discrimination task that is easy if the stimulus is amodally completed and difficult if it is not. Specifically, participants judged whether an upright rectangle was longer horizontally or vertically, when the rectangle was unoccluded, occluded at its corners by four negative-contrast squares, or occluded at its corners by four zero-contrast squares. In the zero-contrast condition, amodal completion did not occur because there were no occlusion cues; in the unoccluded condition, the entire figure was present. Thus, comparing performance in the negative-contrast condition to these two extremes provided a quantitative measure of amodal completion. This measure revealed a rapid but measurable time course for amodal completion. Moving and stationary stimuli took the same amount of time to be completed (approximately 75 msec), but moving stimuli had slightly stronger completion at long durations.
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