Human efficiency for recognizing and detecting low-pass filtered objects

Wendy L. Braje, Bosco S. Tjan, Gordon E. Legge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Recently, Tjan, Braje, Legge and Kersten [(1995) Vision Research, 35, 3053-3069] found that human efficiency for object recognition was less than 10%, indicating that humans fail to use much of the information available to an ideal observer. We examine two explanations for these low efficiencies: (1) humans are inefficient in using high spatial-frequency information; and (2) humans are inefficient in detecting image samples. We tested the first possibility by measuring human efficiency for recognizing low-pass filtered objects, rendered as line drawings and silhouettes, in luminance noise. Efficiency did not improve when high frequencies were removed, and the first explanation was rejected. We tested the second explanation by comparing efficiencies for object detection and recognition. Recognition efficiency was higher than detection efficiency for silhouettes but not line drawings, showing that detection efficiency does not place a ceiling on recognition effiency. The results indicate that human vision is designed to extract image features, such as contours, that enhance recognition. A computer simulation suggests that this can occur if the observer views the world through a band-pass spatial-frequency channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2955-2966
Number of pages12
JournalVision Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1995


  • Efficiency
  • Object detection
  • Object recognition
  • Spatial-frequency filtering

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