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Symmetry 2019, 11(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11020225

Bilateral Symmetry Strengthens the Perceptual Salience of Figure against Ground

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ICube Lab UMR 7357 CNRS and Strasbourg University, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Symmetry 2018)
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Abstract

Although symmetry has been discussed in terms of a major law of perceptual organization since the early conceptual efforts of the Gestalt school (Wertheimer, Metzger, Koffka and others), the first quantitative measurements testing for effects of symmetry on processes of Gestalt formation have seen the day only recently. In this study, a psychophysical rating study and a “foreground”-“background” choice response time experiment were run with human observers to test for effects of bilateral symmetry on the perceived strength of figure-ground in triangular Kanizsa configurations. Displays with and without bilateral symmetry, identical physically-specified-to-total contour ratio, and constant local contrast intensity within and across conditions, but variable local contrast polarity and variable orientation in the plane, were presented in a random order to human observers. Configurations with bilateral symmetry produced significantly stronger figure-ground percepts reflected by greater subjective magnitudes and consistently higher percentages of “foreground” judgments accompanied by significantly shorter response times. These effects of symmetry depend neither on the orientation of the axis of symmetry, nor on the contrast polarity of the physical inducers. It is concluded that bilateral symmetry, irrespective of orientation, significantly contributes to the, largely sign-invariant, visual mechanisms of figure-ground segregation that determine the salience of figure-ground in perceptually ambiguous configurations. View Full-Text
Keywords: bilateral symmetry; physically-specified-to-total contour ratio; Kanizsa’s triangle; figure-ground segregation; law of good Gestalt; subjective magnitude estimation; choice response time bilateral symmetry; physically-specified-to-total contour ratio; Kanizsa’s triangle; figure-ground segregation; law of good Gestalt; subjective magnitude estimation; choice response time
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Dresp-Langley, B. Bilateral Symmetry Strengthens the Perceptual Salience of Figure against Ground. Symmetry 2019, 11, 225.

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