Light and dark bars; contrast discrimination

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Contrast increment thresholds were measured for light and dark bars as a function of the base contrast of the bars. The bars were superimposed on a uniform field of 340 cd/m2. They had either rectangular or Gaussian luminance profiles, varied in width from 0.1° to 10°, and in duration from 10 to 200 msec. For the 200-msec presentations, the resulting contrast discrimination functions all had approximately the same shape when contrast was defined as (Lmax -Lmin)/(Lmax + Lmin), and closely resembled corresponding results for sine-wave gratings. The similarity in shape of contrast discrimination functions for light and dark bars is attributed to a retinal nonlinear intensity transformation. The 10 msec contrast discrimination functions differed from the 200-msec functions in ways that can be explained by differences in temporal integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-483
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1983


  • Contrast detection Retina
  • Contrast discrimination


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