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Looking at any visual scene, we seem to effortlessly parse the world into objects and their backgrounds. We don't know exactly how this process is accomplished in the visual system, but we do know that at the earliest stages of pattern perception, the brain analyzes the scene, piece by piece, into a patchwork of local representations. These representations signal how much energy is present at different spatial scales and different orientations at each spatial location. The process through which this is accomplished is visual spatial frequency analysis. Presumably, at higher levels of processing, the pieces are put back together to efficiently represent a scene. This entry describes contrast and contrast sensitivity, multiple independent channels and Fourier analysis, and channel interactions.

Contrast and Contrast Sensitivity

A fundamental property ...

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