Spatial summation in visual noise

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Contrast thresholds were measured for sinusoidal gratings, with Gaussian spatial and temporal envelopes, as a function of spatial extent in the presence and absence of dynamic white noise. Spatial frequencies ranged from 0.5 to 32c/deg. Efficiency is defined as the ratio of the ideal's contrast-energy threshold to that of the observer under study, each at the same performance level. For spatial frequencies from 0.5 to 8 c/deg. efficiencies for gratings in noise ranged from 8 to 30% for widths less than one cycle, but dropped rapidly as the width was increased beyond one cycle. Spatial summation of gratings in noise resembles the performance of a cross-correlator whose template is matched to a signal about 1 cycle wide (between 1/e points). The psychometric function slope is consistent with this idea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1977-1990
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1984

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
paperfo rmed part of a doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Minnesota. The research was supported by PHS grant BY02857 to D: Legge and a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Grant. This naoer was completed at the Physiological Laboratory. University of Cambridge, with the support of an NIH postdoctoral fellowship EY05660.


  • Contrast detection
  • Efficiency
  • Visual noise


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