Mach bands as empirically derived associations.
If Mach bands arise as an empirical consequence of real-world luminance profiles, several predictions follow. First, the appearance of Mach bands should accord with the appearance of naturally occurring highlights and lowlights. Second, altering the slope of an ambiguous luminance gradient so that it corresponds more closely to gradients that are typically adorned with luminance maxima and minima in the position of Mach bands should enhance the illusion. Third, altering a luminance gradient so that it corresponds more closely to gradients that normally lack luminance maxima and minima in the position of Mach bands should diminish the salience of the illusion. Fourth, the perception of Mach bands elicited by the same luminance gradient should be changed by contextual cues that indicate whether the gradient is more or less likely to signify a curved or a flat surface. Because each of these predictions is met, we conclude that Mach bands arise because the association elicited by the stimulus (the percept) incorporates these features as a result of past experience.
Lotto, RB; Williams, SM; Purves, D
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