Entry Date:
December 26, 2006

Influence of Learning on Stereo-Depth Perception

Principal Investigator Pawan Sinha

The interaction between depth perception and learning processes has important implications for the nature of mental object representations and models of hierarchical organization of visual processing. It is often believed that the computation of depth influences subsequent high-level object recognition processes, and that depth processing is an early vision task that is largely immune to learned object-specific influences. We have found experimental evidence that challenges both these assumptions in the specific context of stereoscopic depth-perception. Our results suggest that observers can not only recognize depth-scrambled 3D objects, they are perceptually unaware of the depth anomalies. The first result points to the limited contribution of depth information to recognition while the second result is indicative of a top-down recognition-based influence whereby learned expectations about an object’s 3D structure can overwhelm true stereoscopic information.