Occluding Contours: A Computational Model of Suppressive Mechanisms in Human Contour Perception

Jens Månsson

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


A fundamental problem in vision is how to identify the occluding contours of objects and surfaces, given the ambiguity inherent in low-level visual input. A computational model is proposed for how occluding contours could be identified by making use of simple heuristics that reduce the ambiguity of individual features. In the striate cortex, a large majority of cells are selective for both contrast and orientation; i.e., they respond preferentially to simple features like contrast edges or lines. The heuristics we propose enhance or suppress the outputs of model striate-cortical cells, depending on the orientation and spatial distribution of stimuli present outside of the "classical" receptive field of these cells. In particular, the output of a cell is suppressed if the cell responds to a feature embedded in a texture, in which the "component features" are oriented in accordance with the orientation-selectivity of the cell. The model has been implemented and tested on natural as well as artificial grey-scale images. The model produces results that in several aspects are consistent with human contour/form perception. For example, it reproduces a number of known visual phenomena such as illusory contours, contour masking, pre-attentive pop-out (due to orientation-contrast), and it enhances contours that human observers often report perceiving as more salient.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • Cognitive Studies


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