Classification and perceived similarity of compound gratings that differ in relative spatial phase
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Discrimination studies suggest that two, and only two, channels encode relative spatial phase shifts in compound gratings (Bennett & Banks, 1991; Field & Nachmias, 1984). The more sensitive channel consists of even-symmetric filters and responds best to cosine phase shifts (e.g., 0 degree-180 degrees); the other consists of odd-symmetric filters and responds best to sine phase shifts (e.g., 90 degrees-270 degrees). The present experiments investigated whether the two-channel model generalizes to suprathreshold perceptual tasks. Experiment 1 examined classification learning of compound gratings, consisting of a fundamental (f) and second harmonic (2f), that differed in 2f contrast and relative phase. Experiments 2 and 3 measured the perceived similarity of f + 2f gratings. The results of Experiment 1 were broadly consistent with the predictions of the two-channel model. Specifically, the classification data were best explained by assuming that classification was based on the responses of differentially sensitive even- and odd-symmetric filters. In Experiments 2 and 3, two-dimensional multidimensional scaling solutions provided a good account for the similarity judgments. In Experiment 2, Dimension 1 was strongly correlated with cosine phase, and Dimension 2 was moderately correlated with sine phase. In Experiment 3, cosine phase was again strongly related to Dimension 1, whereas the absolute value of sine phase was strongly related to Dimension 2. Overall, these results suggest that the two-channel model of phase discrimination provides a useful framework for interpreting classification and similarity judgments of compound gratings.
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