Ordinal configural cues combine with metric disparity in depth perception

Johannes Burge, Mary A. Peterson, Stephen E. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Prior research on the combination of depth cues generally assumes that different cues must be in the same units for meaningful combination to occur. We investigated whether the geometrically ordinal cues of familiarity and convexity influence depth perception when unambiguous metric information is provided by binocular disparity. We used bipartite, random dot stereograms with a central luminance edge shaped like a face in profile. Disparity specified that the edge and dots on one side were closer than the dots on the other side. Configural cues suggested that the familiar, face-shaped region was closer than the unfamiliar side. Configural cues caused an increase in perceived depth for a given disparity signal when they were consistent with disparity and a decrease in perceived depth when they were inconsistent. Thus, geometrically ordinal configural cues can quantitatively influence a metric depth cue. Implications for the combination of configural and depth cues are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
Pages (from-to)534-542
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 22 2005


  • Configural cues
  • Cue-combination
  • Depth perception
  • Disparity
  • Familiarity
  • Figure-ground
  • Occlusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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