Shifts in perception of size after adaptation to gratings

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Science  14 Dec 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4424, pp. 1327-1329
DOI: 10.1126/science.515736


After viewing a suitable grating of vertical stripes for 5 minutes, subjects overestimated the width of a rectangle by 6 percent. The shifts in perception of size occurred whether individual stripes in the grating were narrower than, equal to, or wider than the rectangle. Rectangle width was underestimated only if the grating stripes were extremely wide, with a spatial frequency lower than most of the effective amplitude spectrum of the rectangle. These findings (and complementary ones with horizontal gratings) suggest that the visual system codes size on the basis of spatial frequency components, rather than directly in terms of width.