Depth And Size Perception

One of the major accomplishments of visual perception is the way in which the two-dimensional retinal image is transformed into perception of a three-dimensional world. The term "depth perception" is used in two rather different senses (Sekuler & Blake, 1994). First, there is absolute distance, which refers to the distance away from the observer that an object is located. Second, there is relative distance. This refers to the distance between two obj ects. It is used, for example, when fitting a slice of bread into a toaster. Judgements of relative distance are generally more accurate than judgements of absolute distance.

In real life, cues to depth are often provided by movement, either of the observer or of objects in the visual environment. However, the major focus here will be on cues to depth that are available even if the observer and the objects in the environment are static. These cues can conveniently be divided into monocular, binocular, oculomotor cues. Monocular cues are those that only require the use of one eye, although they can be used readily when someone has both eyes open. Such cues clearly exist, because the world still retains a sense of depth with one eye closed. Binocular cues are those that involve both eyes being used together. Finally, oculomotor cues are kinaesthetic, depending on sensations of muscular contraction of the muscles around the eye.

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