Object recognition contributions to figure-ground organization: Operations on outlines and subjective contours

Mary A. Peterson, Bradley S. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

106 Scopus citations


In previous research, replicated here, we found that some object recognition processes influence figure-ground organization. We have proposed that these object recognition processes operate on edges (or contours)detected early in visual processing, rather than on regions. Consistent with this proposal, influences from object recognition on figure-ground organization were previously observed in both pictures and stereograms depicting regions of different luminance, but not in randomdot stereograms, where edges arise late in processing (Peterson & Gibson, 1993). In the present experiments, we examined whether or not two other types of contours-outlines and subjective contours-enable object recognition influences on figure-ground organization. For both types of contours we observed a pattern of effects similar to that originally obtained with luminance edges. The results of these experiments are valuable for distinguishing between alternative views of the mechanisms mediating object recognition influences on figure-ground organization. In addition, in both Experiments 1 and 2, fixated regions were seen as figure longer than nonfixated regions, suggesting that fixation location must be included among the variables relevant to figure-ground organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-564
Number of pages14
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1994


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

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