Contour erasure and filling-in: Old simulations account for most new observations
Three recent studies used similar stimulus sequences to investigate mechanisms for brightness perception. Anstis and Greenlee (2014) demonstrated that adaptation to a flickering black and white outline erased the visibility of a subsequent target shape defined by a luminance increment or decrement. Robinson and de Sa (2012, 2013) used a flickering disk or annulus to show a similar effect. Here, a neural network model of visual perception (Francis & Kim, 2012), that previously explained properties of scene fading, is shown to also explain most of the erasure effects reported by Anstis and Greenlee and by Robinson and de Sa. The model proposes that in normal viewing conditions a brightness filling-in process is constrained by oriented boundaries, which thereby define separate regions of a visual scene. Contour adaptation can weaken the boundaries and thereby allow brightness signals to merge together, which renders target stimuli indistinguishable from the background. New simulations with the stimuli used by Anstis and Greenlee and Robinson and de Sa produce model output very similar to the perceptual experience of human observers. Finally, the model predicts that adaptation to illusory contours will not produce contour erasure.