Binocular unmasking: an analog to binaural unmasking?

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Science  17 Mar 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4897, pp. 1479-1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.2928782


A visual analog to binaural unmasking was explored. The observer's task was to detect, under stereoscopic viewing conditions, an apertured sinusoidal grating added to a square patch of visual noise. In the experimental condition, the square patch of noise was presented within a frame such that the right-eye noise was a shifted version of the left-eye noise. Because of the disparity in the noise images, subjects perceived, under stereoscopic viewing conditions, that the noise patch was located behind the frame. When sinusoidal signals were added to this noise patch, the signals were clearly more detectable when the signal disparity was zero than when the signal disparity equaled that of the noise patch, demonstrating the existence of visual unmasking. Hence, under appropriate circumstances, binocular processing, in addition to providing information about depth, can also enhance the detectability of visual patterns.

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