A1 Journal article – refereed

Binocular disparity can augment the capacity of vision without affecting subjective experience of depth

List of Authors: Henry Railo, Joni Saastamoinen, Sipi Kylmälä, Aapo Peltola


Publication year: 2018

Journal: Scientific Reports

Journal name in source: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS

Journal acronym: SCI REP-UK

Volume number: 8

Number of pages: 9

ISSN: 2045-2322

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-34137-9

Binocular disparity results in a tangible subjective experience of three-dimensional world, but whether disparity also augments objective perceptual performance remains debated. We hypothesized that the improved coding of depth enabled by binocular disparity allows participants to individuate more objects at a glance as the objects can be more efficiently differentiated from each other and the background. We asked participants to enumerate objects in briefly presented naturalistic (Experiment 1) and artificial (Experiment 2) scenes in immersive virtual reality. This type of enumeration task yields well-documented capacity limits where up to 3-4 items can be enumerated rapidly and accurately, known as subitizing. Our results show that although binocular disparity did not yield a large general improvement in enumeration accuracy or reaction times, it improved participants' ability to process the items right after the limit of perceptual capacity. Binocular disparity also sped-up response times by 27 ms on average when artificial stimuli (cubes) were used. Interestingly, the influence of disparity on subjectively experienced depth revealed a clearly different pattern than the influence of disparity on objective performance. This suggests that the functional and subjective sides of stereopsis can be dissociated. Altogether our results suggest that binocular disparity may increase the number of items the visual system can simultaneously process. This may help animals to better resolve and track objects in complex, cluttered visual environments.

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Last updated on 2021-24-06 at 11:37