Gestalt-like constraints produce veridical (Euclidean) percepts of 3D indoor scenes
This study, which was influenced a lot by Gestalt ideas, extends our prior work on the role of a priori constraints in the veridical perception of 3D shapes to the perception of 3D scenes. Our experiments tested how human sub-jects perceive the layout of a naturally-illuminated indoor scene that contains common symmetrical 3D objects standing on a horizontal floor. In one task, the subject was asked to draw a top view of a scene that was viewed either monocularly or binocularly. The top views the subjects reconstructed were configured accurately except for their overall size. These size errors varied from trial to trial, and were shown most-likely to result from the presence of a response bias. There was little, if any, evidence of systematic distortions of the subjects' perceived visual space, the kind of distortions that have been reported in numerous experiments run under very unnatural conditions. This shown, we proceeded to use Foley's (1972) isosceles right triangle experiment to test the intrinsic geometry of visual space directly. This was done with natural viewing, with the impoverished viewing conditions Foley had used, as well as with a number of intermediate viewing conditions. Our subjects produced very accurate triangles when the viewing conditions were natural, but their performance deteriorated systematically as the viewing conditions were progressively impoverished. Their perception of visual space became more compressed as their natural visual environment was degraded. Once this was shown, we developed a computational model that emulated the most salient features of our psychophysical results. We concluded that human observers see 3D scenes veridically when they view natural 3D objects within natural 3D environments.