Next Article in Journal
Action Duality: A Constructive Principle for Quantum Foundations
Previous Article in Journal
Classifying Entropy Measures
Previous Article in Special Issue
Mirror Symmetry Is Subject to Crowding
Article Menu

Article Versions

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Symmetry 2011, 3(3), 503-523; doi:10.3390/sym3030503

Folded Sheet Versus Transparent Sheet Models for Human Symmetry Judgments

Statistical Physics Laboratory, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France
UMR8550 of the CNRS associated to UPMC University Paris 06 and to Paris Diderot University, Paris, France
Received: 6 April 2011 / Revised: 8 July 2011 / Accepted: 8 July 2011 / Published: 22 July 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry Processing in Perception and Art)
Download PDF [2910 KB, uploaded 22 July 2011]   |  


As a contribution to the mysteries of human symmetry perception, reaction time data were collected on the detection of symmetry or repetition violations, in the context of short term visual memory studies. The histograms for reaction time distributions are rather narrow in the case of symmetry judgments. Their analysis was performed in terms of a simple kinetic model of a mental process in two steps, a slow one for the construction of the representation of the images to be compared, and a fast one, in the 50 ms range, for the decision. There was no need for an additional ‘mental rotation’ step. Symmetry seems to facilitate the construction step. I also present here original stimuli showing a color equalization effect across a symmetry axis, and its counterpart in periodic patterns. According to a “folded sheet model”, when a shape is perceived, the brain automatically constructs a mirror-image representation of the shape. Based in part on the reaction time analysis, I present here an alternative “transparent sheet” model in which the brain constructs a single representation, which can be accessed from two sides, thus generating simultaneously a pattern and its mirror-symmetric partner. Filtering processes, implied by current models of symmetry perception could intervene at an early stage, by nucleating the propagation of similar perceptual groupings in the two symmetric images.
Keywords: symmetry violations; reaction time distributions; color diffusion; short-term visual memory; kinetic model symmetry violations; reaction time distributions; color diffusion; short-term visual memory; kinetic model

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Supplementary material

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Ninio, J. Folded Sheet Versus Transparent Sheet Models for Human Symmetry Judgments. Symmetry 2011, 3, 503-523.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Symmetry EISSN 2073-8994 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top