Evidence Relating Subjective Contours and Interpretations Involving Occlusion

Unknown author (1981-06-01)

Subjective contours, according to one theory, outline surfaces that are apparently interposed between the viewer and background (because of the disruption of background figures, sudden termination of lines, and other occlusion "cues") but are not explicitly outlined by intensity discontinuities. This theory predicts that if occlusion cures are not interpreted as evidence of occlusion, no intervening surface need be postulated, hence no subjective contours would be seen. This prediction, however, is difficult to test because observers normally interpret the cues as occlusion evidence and normally see the subjective contours. This article describes a patient with visual agnosia who is both unable to make the usual occlusion interpretations and is unable to see subjective contours. He has, however, normal ability to interpret standard visual illusions, stereograms, and in particular, stereogram versions of the standard subjective contour figures, which elicit to him strong subjective edges in depth (corresponding to the subjective contours viewed in the monocular versions of the figures).