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Proceedings Paper

Adaptation, high-level vision, and the phenomenology of perception
Author(s): Michael A. Webster
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Paper Abstract

To what extent do we have shared or unique visual experiences? This paper examines how the answer to this question is constrained by known processes of visual adaptation. Adaptation constantly recalibrates visual sensitivity so that our vision is matched to the stimuli that we are currently exposed to. These processes normalize perception not only to low-level features in the image, but to high-level, biologically relevant properties of the visual world. They can therefore strongly impact many natural perceptual judgments. To the extent that observers are exposed to and thus adapted by a different environment, their vision will be normalized in different ways and their subjective visual experience will differ. These differences are illustrated by considering how adaptation can influence human face perception. To the extent that observers are exposed and adapted to common properties in the environment, their vision will be adjusted toward common states, and in this respect they will have a common visual experience. This is illustrated by reviewing the effects of adaptation on the perception of image blur. In either case, it is the similarities or differences in the stimuli - and not the intrinsic similarities or differences in the observers - which determine the relative states of adaptation. Thus at least some aspects of our private internal experience are controlled by external factors that are accessible to objective measurement.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 May 2002
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 4662, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging VII, (30 May 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.469520
Show Author Affiliations
Michael A. Webster, Univ. of Nevada/Reno (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4662:
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging VII
Bernice E. Rogowitz; Thrasyvoulos N. Pappas, Editor(s)

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