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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

One hundred years after Gestalt views first took hold our understanding of how perceptual processes organize the visual field into objects and their local backgrounds (‘figure–ground organization’) has progressed substantially. We now know that in addition to the image-based properties that the Gestalt psychologists identified as relevant, a myriad of other image-based factors influence figure–ground organization, as do subjective factors such as past experience, attention, and intentions. Moreover, properties of grounds as well as properties of figures play a role. The recent use of indirect measures and brain imaging techniques has revealed that there is much more processing of the regions ultimately perceived as grounds than is supposed in traditional approaches, and that competition and feedback are involved in figure–ground organization. These recent advances offer great promise for uncovering the mechanisms that organize the visual field into figures and grounds.

Keywords: Figure–ground organization, object perception, past experience, configural properties, competition, processing stage, high-level factors, subjective factors, computational models, feedback, feedforward models, object memories.

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