The strength of amodal completion is known to be modulated by contour relationships and global shape. Some researchers have shown that amodal completion also depends on surface similarity, but they have not distinguished the relative importance of similarity in surface representations either pre or post lightness constancy. In the experiments reported here, we aimed to determine whether amodal completion depends on processes that occur either before or after the establishment of lightness constancy. We used computer rendering techniques to vary the consistency of a cast shadow with a decrement in luminance on one side of a partially occluded surface. We found that perceived completion depended on the consistency of the decrement in surface luminance with the orientation of a cast shadow (Exp. 1). In Experiment 2, we generated occluded surface fragments that could be either luminance-matched or lightness-matched to surface fragments on the opposite side of the occluder, and we found that the strength of amodal completion depended primarily on similarity in the perceived surface reflectance. In Experiments 3 and 4, we performed apparent-motion tasks to obtain converging evidence for grouping on the basis of perceived similarity in lightness. We found that matching surfaces in lightness significantly improved the apparent motion of surfaces behind an occluder, as compared with surfaces that were matched in contrast alone. These results suggest that amodal completion depends on the perceived similarity in lightness of partially occluded surface fragments.
2-D shape and form Apparent motion Scene perception Amodal completion
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The authors kindly thank P. Marlow for his advice on the design of Experiments 3 and 4. Thanks also to M. Whitbread and K. Tan for their comments and support at various stages throughout the project. This research was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) discovery project awarded to B.L.A. and J.K., an ARC fellowship awarded to B.L.A., and an Honours Scholarship awarded to K.J. by the University of Sydney.
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