Accessibility navigation

Luminance contrast provides metric depth information

Hibbard, P. B., Goutcher, R., Hornsey, R. L., Hunter, D. W. and Scarfe, P. ORCID: (2023) Luminance contrast provides metric depth information. Royal Society Open Science, 10 (2). 220567. ISSN 2054-5703

Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220567


The perception of depth from retinal images depends on information from multiple visual cues. One potential depth cue is the statistical relationship between luminance and distance; darker points in a local region of an image tend to be farther away than brighter points. We establish that this statistical relationship acts as a quantitative cue to depth. We show that luminance variations affect depth in naturalistic scenes containing multiple cues to depth. This occurred when the correlation between variations of luminance and depth was manipulated within an object, but not between objects. This is consistent with the local nature of the statistical relationship in natural scenes. We also showed that perceived depth increases as contrast is increased, but only when the depth signalled by luminance and binocular disparity are consistent. Our results show that the negative correlation between luminance and distance, as found under diffuse lighting, provides a depth cue that is combined with depth from binocular disparity, in a way that is consistent with the simultaneous estimation of surface depth and reflectance variations. Adopting more complex lighting models such as ambient occlusion in computer rendering will thus contribute to the accuracy as well as the aesthetic appearance of three-dimensional graphics.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:111084
Publisher:The Royal Society


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation