Our subjective impression of the visual world is that everything is in focus. This impression is reinforced by the common practice in photography and cinematography of creating images that are in focus everywhere. Our subjective impression, however, is quite incorrect because most parts of the retinal image are significantly blurred. We will examine the use of blur and the eye's focusing response in the perception of distance and size. We will also examine how blur and accommodation affect viewer fatigue. There is clear evidence that blur affects distance and size perception. A probabilistic model will be developed that incorporates the information in blur and other cues. The model will be evaluated and refined by comparing its behavior to human perception in a series of psychophysical experiments. One set of experiments will use miniaturization effects developed in photography. Those experiments will determine the contributions of blur and the eye's focusing response (accommodation) on perceived absolute distance. Another set of experiments will capitalize on the information contained in the blur of a border between two regions in an image. Those experiments will determine whether the plausibility of observed blur, focus distance, and relative size affect the perception of depth order. The geometries of depth from binocular disparity and depth from blur are fundamentally similar. In principle, the two cues provide complimentary information about distance, with disparity providing more precise information near the point of fixation and blur providing more precise information away from fixation. The relative contributions of disparity and blur to perceived distance and eye-movement control will be measured for various positions relative to where the viewer is looking. The amount of blur in the retinal image depends on the absolute and relative distance of objects in the environment and on where the viewer is focused. We define the concept of """"""""natural depth of field"""""""";this is the appropriate relationship between other depth cues and blur for a normal human eye viewing the natural environment. We will determine whether people are sensitive to natural depth of field and whether 3D structure is misperceived in images that deviate from the natural relationship. Stereo displays are becoming more widely used in applications such medical imaging, surgical training, and scientific visualization. The motion picture and television industries are also rapidly introducing stereo. With stereo displays, the normal correlation between vergence and accommodation is disrupted. The result is a vergence-accommodation conflict. There are several adverse consequences of the conflict, but the most important is undoubtedly discomfort and fatigue. We will determine how viewing distance, refractive error, age, and the magnitude and sign of the vergence-accommodation conflict affect discomfort and fatigue. A better understanding will aid the design of stereo displays and the content shown on such displays.

Public Health Relevance

We will examine how blur and the focusing response of the eye, coupled with other sources of depth information, affect the perception of 3D layout. The proposed research is based on rigorous psychophysical techniques, thorough analyses of the geometry underlying image formation in the eye and sources of depth information, and quantitative probabilistic modeling. It will have broad impact because it is relevant to a large number of academic and applied disciplines including perceptual psychology, vision science, medical imaging, computer graphics, photography, cinematography, ergonomics, and art.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
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Central Visual Processing Study Section (CVP)
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Steinmetz, Michael A
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University of California Berkeley
Schools of Optometry/Ophthalmol
United States
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Johnson, Paul V; Kim, Joohwan; Banks, Martin S (2015) Stereoscopic 3D display technique using spatiotemporal interlacing has improved spatial and temporal properties. Opt Express 23:9252-75
Sprague, William W; Cooper, Emily A; ToŇ°i?, Ivana et al. (2015) Stereopsis is adaptive for the natural environment. Sci Adv 1:
Banks, Martin S; Cooper, Emily A; Piazza, Elise A (2014) Camera Focal Length and the Perception of Pictures. Ecol Psychol 26:30-46
Johnson, Paul V; Kim, Joohwan; Banks, Martin S (2014) The visibility of color breakup and a means to reduce it. J Vis 14:10
Kane, David; Guan, Phillip; Banks, Martin S (2014) The limits of human stereopsis in space and time. J Neurosci 34:1397-408
Kim, Joohwan; Kane, David; Banks, Martin S (2014) The rate of change of vergence-accommodation conflict affects visual discomfort. Vision Res 105:159-65
Kim, Joohwan; Kane, David; Banks, Martin S (2012) Visual Discomfort and the Temporal Properties of the Vergence-Accommodation Conflict. Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng 8288:828811
Banks, Martin S; Read, Jenny C A; Allison, Robert S et al. (2012) Stereoscopy and the Human Visual System. SMPTE Motion Imaging J 121:24-43
Cooper, Emily A; Piazza, Elise A; Banks, Martin S (2012) The perceptual basis of common photographic practice. J Vis 12:8
Held, Robert T; Cooper, Emily A; Banks, Martin S (2012) Blur and disparity are complementary cues to depth. Curr Biol 22:426-31

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