The effect of transparency on recognition of overlapping objects

Anne Hillstrom, H. Wakefield, H. Scholey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Are overlapping objects easier to recognize when the objects are transparent or opaque? It is important to know whether the transparency of X-ray images of luggage contributes to the difficulty in searching those images for targets. Transparency provides extra information about objects that would normally be occluded but creates potentially ambiguous depth relations at the region of overlap. Two experiments investigated the threshold durations at which adult participants could accurately name pairs of overlapping objects that were opaque or transparent. In Experiment 1, the transparent displays included monocular cues to relative depth. Recognition of the back object was possible at shorter durations for transparent displays than for opaque displays. In Experiment 2, the transparent displays had no monocular depth cues. There was no difference in the duration at which the back object was recognized across transparent and opaque displays. The results of the two experiments suggest that transparent displays, even though less familiar than opaque displays, do not make object recognition more difficult, and possibly show a benefit. These findings call into question the importance of edge junctions in object recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-170
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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