Brightness masking is modulated by disparity structure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


The luminance contrast at the borders of a surface strongly influences surface’s apparent brightness, as demonstrated by a number of classic visual illusions. Such phenomena are compatible with a propagation mechanism believed to spread contrast information from borders to the interior. This process is disrupted by masking, where the perceived brightness of a target is reduced by the brief presentation of a mask (Paradiso & Nakayama, 1991), but the exact visual stage that this happens remains unclear. In the present study, we examined whether brightness masking occurs at a monocular-, or a binocular-level of the visual hierarchy. We used backward masking, whereby a briefly presented target stimulus is disrupted by a mask coming soon afterwards, to show that brightness masking is affected by binocular stages of the visual processing. We manipulated the 3-D configurations (slant direction) of the target and mask and measured the differential disruption that masking causes on brightness estimation. We found that the masking effect was weaker when stimuli had a different slant. We suggest that brightness masking is partly mediated by mid-level neuronal mechanisms, at a stage where binocular disparity edge structure has been extracted.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
JournalVision Research
Issue numberPart A
Early online date24 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Brightness estimation, Visual masking, Binocular depth perception, Filling-in