Contrast thresholds in additive luminance noise: Effect of noise temporal characteristics

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Abstract

This study investigated the way in which the temporal properties of additive luminance noise influence threshold contrast and affect estimates of equivalent noise and sampling efficiency. Threshold contrast was obtained from four visually normal observers for a 2-cycle-per-degree Gabor patch across a range of target durations in the absence and presence of additive luminance noise that was either static or dynamic. In addition, the temporal relationship between target and noise was either synchronous (simultaneous presentation of both) or asynchronous (noise duration longer than target duration). For both synchronous and asynchronous presentation modes, the extent of temporal integration differed for targets presented in dynamic vs. static noise. Furthermore, for a fixed-duration target, increasing the degree of temporal asynchrony between target and noise monotonically increased threshold contrast in dynamic noise, but had a non-monotonic effect on threshold contrast in static noise. For both dynamic and static noise, estimates of equivalent noise and sampling efficiency were dependent on the degree of temporal asynchrony between target and noise. The observed differences between the effects of dynamic and static noise are consistent with a previous proposal that detection of targets of intermediate spatial frequency in the presence of these two noise types is governed by sustained-like and transient-like visual mechanisms, respectively.

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