The role of junctions in surface completion and contour matching

Nava Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been suggested that contour junctions may be used as cues for occlusion. Ecologically, T-junctions and L-junctions are concurrent with situations of occlusion: they arise when the bounding contour of the occluding surface intersects with that of the occluded surface. However, there are other image properties that can be used as cues for occlusion. Here the role of junctions is directly compared with other occlusion cues - specifically, relatability and surface-similarity-in the emergence of amodal completion and illusory contour perception. Stimuli have been constructed that differ only in the junction structure, with the other occlusion cues kept unchanged. L-junctions and T-junctions were eliminated from the image or manipulated so as to be locally inconsistent with the (still valid) global occlusion interpretation. Although the other occlusion cues of relatability and surface similarity still existed in the image, subjects reported not perceiving illusory contours or amodal completion in junction-manipulated images. Junction manipulation also affected the perceived stereoscopic depth and motion of image regions, depending on whether they were perceived to amodally complete with a disjoint region in the image. These results are interpreted in terms of the role of junctions in the processes of surface completion and contour matching. It is proposed that junctions, being a local cue for occlusion, are used to launch completion processes. Other, more global occlusion cues, such as relatability, play a part at a later stage, once completion processes have been launched.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-366
Number of pages28
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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