The perceived transmittance of inhomogeneous surfaces and media

Barton L. Anderson, Manish Singh, Jeanette Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


A series of experiments was performed to determine how the visual system computes the transmittance of inhomogeneous surfaces and media. Previous work (Anderson, B. L. (1999) Stereoscopic surface perception. Neuron, 26, 919-928; Anderson, B. L. (2003) The role of occlusion in the perception of depth, lightness, and opacity. Psychological Review, 110, 762-784) has suggested that the visual system employs a transmittance anchoring principle in determining when transparency is perceived. This principle states that the visual system interprets the highest contrast region along contours and surfaces as a region in plain view and uses this anchor as a reference point for transparency computations. In particular, recent work has shown that the transmittance of homogeneous transparent surfaces is well described by a ratio of contrasts model (Singh, M., & Anderson, B. L. (2002). Toward a perceptual theory of transparency. Psychological Review, 109, 492-519). In this model, the transmittance of a transparent surface is determined by the contrast of a transparent image region normalized by the contrast of the region in plain view. Here, a series of experiments is reported that assesses this model for inhomogeneous transparent surfaces that vary in both space and time. The results of these experiments reveal that transmittance anchoring has both a spatial and temporal component, and that the perceived transmittance of transparent surfaces is well described by a ratio of perceived contrasts model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1982-1995
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • Anchoring
  • Depth
  • Opacity
  • Surface perception
  • Transparency

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