The effect of figural manipulations on brightness differences in the Benary cross
The Benary cross is a classical demonstration showing that the perceived brightness of an area is not solely determined by its luminance, but also by the context in which it is embedded. Despite the fact that two identical grey triangles are flanked by an equal amount of black and white, one of the triangles is perceived as being lighter than the other. It has been argued that the junctions surrounding a test area are crucial in determining brightness. Here, we explored how different aspects influencing perceptual organisation influence perceived figure background relations in the Benary cross and, with that, the perceived brightness of the triangular patches in our stimuli. The results of a cancellation task confirm that the alignment of contours at junctions indeed has a strong influence on an area's brightness. At the same time, however, the Benary effect is also influenced by the overall symmetry of the cross and its orientation.