Early Completion of Occluded Objects
Ronald A. Rensink, Cambridge Basic Research, Nissan Research & Development, Inc., Cambridge MA, USA.
James T. Enns[2], Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada.

Vision Research, 38: 2489-2505. 1998.   [pdf]


We show that early vision can use monocular cues to rapidly complete partially-occluded objects. Visual search for easily-detected fragments becomes difficult when the completed shape is similar to others in the display; conversely, search for fragments that are difficult to detect becomes easy when the completed shape is distinctive. Results indicate that completion occurs via the occlusion-triggered removal of occlusion edges and linking of associated regions. We fail to find evidence for a visible filling-in of contours or surfaces, but do find evidence for a "functional" filling-in that prevents the constituent fragments from being rapidly accessed. As such, it is only the completed structures--and not the fragments themselves--that serve as the basis for rapid recognition.

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