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The utility of image descriptions in the initial stages of vision: a case study of printed text

Watt R & Dakin SC (2010) The utility of image descriptions in the initial stages of vision: a case study of printed text, British Journal of Psychology, 101 (1), pp. 1-26.

Vision research has made very substantial progress towards understanding how we see. It is one area of psychology where the three-way thrust of behavioural measurements (psychophysics), brain imaging, and computational studies have been combined quite routinely for some years. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate a relatively unusual form of computational modelling which we characterise as involving image descriptions. Image descriptions are statements about structures in images and relationships between structures. Most modelling in vision is either conceived in fairly abstract terms, or is done at the level of images. Neither is entirely satisfactory, and image descriptions are a simple formulation of age-old ideas about a vocabulary of image features that are detected and parameterized from actual digital images. For our example, we use the domain of the visual perception of printed text. This is an area that has been characterized by thorough, robust psychophysical experiments. The fundamental requirements of visual processing in this domain are: grouping of some parts if the image into words; at the same time segmenting words from each other. We show how these are readily understood in terms of our model of image descriptions, and show quantitatively that typographical practice, refined over centuries, is about optimum for the visual system at least as represented by our model. In addition, we show that the same notion of image descriptions could, in principle, support word recognition in certain circumstances.

Subject headings
Vision Research; Computational neuroscience; Vision physiology

AuthorsWatt Roger, Dakin Steven C
Publication date02/2010
Publication date online24/12/2010
PublisherBritish Psychological Society
ISSN 0007-1269

British Journal of Psychology: Volume 101, Issue 1 (2010-02)

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