An exploration of the spatial scale over which orientation-dependent surround effects affect contour detection.

Jennifer F. Schumacher, Christina F. Quinn, Cheryl A. Olman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Contour detection is a crucial component of visual processing; however, performance on contour detection tasks can vary depending on the context of the visual scene. S. C. Dakin and N. J. Baruch (2009) showed that detection of a contour in an array of distracting elements depends on the orientation of flanking elements. Here, using a line of five collinear Gabor elements ("target contour") in a field of distractor Gabor elements, we systematically measured the effects of eccentricity, spacing, and spatial frequency on contour detection performance in three different contexts: randomly oriented distractors (control condition), flanking distractors (on either side of the collinear Gabors) aligned approximately parallel to the target contour, and flanking distractors aligned approximately orthogonal to the target contour. In the control condition, contour detection performance was best for larger Gabors (2 cpd) spaced farther apart (1.2°). Parallel flankers reduced performance for intermediate and large spacings and sizes compared to the control condition, while orthogonal flankers increased performance for the smallest spacing and size compared to the control condition. The results are fit by a model in which collinear facilitation, which is size-dependent but can persist for several degrees of visual angle, competes with orientation-dependent suppression from the flanking context when elements are separated by less than a degree of visual angle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2011


  • Contextual modulation
  • Contour detection
  • Contour integration
  • Psychophysics
  • Surround suppression


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