Occlusion Awaits Disclosure

  • Gijs Plomp
  • Cees van Leeuwen


At any moment in time, the world presents us with visual information that is inherently incomplete. This incompleteness arises to a large extent from the projection of a three-dimensional (3D) world onto a two-dimensional (2D) surface, the retina. The projected image fails to reveal, among other things, the way objects and surfaces extend behind others so that they appear partly occluded. From the observer’s point of view anything whatsoever could be hidden behind an occluding object, including parts of the object itself; there is no principled way to derive what is there. Nonetheless we usually perceive occluded parts as having a determinate structure.


Completion Time Visual Search Primary Visual Cortex Illusory Contour Occlude Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahissar E, Vaadia E, Ahissar M, Bergman H, Arieli A, Abeles M (1992) Dependence of cortical plasticity on correlated activity of single neurons and on behavioral context. Science 257:1412–1415PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahissar M, Hochstein S (1993) Attentional control of early perceptual learning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 90:5718–5722PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Albright TD (1995) My most true mind thus makes mine eye untrue. Trends Neurosci 18:331–333PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Albright TD, Stoner GR (2002) Contextual influences on visual processing. Annu Rev Neurosci 25:339–379PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altmann CF, Bülthoff HH, Kourtzi Z (2003) Perceptual organization of local elements into global shapes in the human visual cortex. Curr Biol 13:342–349PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Assad JA, Maunsell JH (1995) Neuronal correlates of inferred motion in primate posterior parietal cortex. Nature 373:518–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruno N, Bertamini M, Domini F (1997) Amodal completion of partly occluded surfaces: is there a mosaic stage? J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 23:1412–1426PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buffart H, Leeuwenberg E (1981) Coding theory of visual pattern completion. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 7:241–274PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buffart H, Leeuwenberg E, Restle F (1983) Analysis of ambiguity in visual pattern completion. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 9:980–1000PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deruelle C, Barbet I, Depy D, Fagot J (2000) Perception of partly occluded figures by baboons (Papio papio). Perception 29:1483–1497PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dinnerstein D, Wertheimer M (1957) Some determinants of phenomenal overlapping. Am J Psychol 70:21–37PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dresp B, Grossberg S (1997) Contour integration across polarities and spatial gaps: from local contrast filtering to global grouping. Vision Res 37:913–924PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Field DJ, Hayes A, Hess RF (1993) Contour integration by the human visual system: evidence for a local “association field”. Vision Res 33:173–193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fujita K (2001) Perceptual completion in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and pigeons (Columbia livia). Percept Psychophys 63:115–125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Gerbino W, Salmaso D (1987) The effect of a modal completion on visual matching. Acta Psychol (Amst) 65:25–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gibson JJ (1972) A theory of direct visual perception. In: Royce JR, Rozeboom WW (Eds) The psychology of knowing. New York, New York, pp 215–240Google Scholar
  17. Guttman SE, Sekuler AB, Kellman PJ (2003) Temporal variations in visual completion: a reflection of spatial limits? J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 29:1211–1227PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. He ZJ, Nakayama K (1992) Surfaces versus features in visual search. Nature 359:231–233PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Joseph JS, Nakayama K (1999) Amodal representation depends on the object seen before partial occlusion. Vision Res 39:283–292PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kamitani Y, Shimojo S (2004) Global yet early processing of visual surfaces. In: Chalupa LM, Werner JS (Eds) The visual neurosciences. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, pp 1129–1138Google Scholar
  21. Kanizsa G (1955) Margini quasi-percettivi in campi con stimolazione omogenea. Riv Psicol 49:7–30Google Scholar
  22. Kanizsa G, Gerbino W (1982) Amodal completion: seeing or thinking? In: Beck J (Ed) Organisation and representation in perception. Hillsdale New Jersey, Hillsdale New Jersey, pp 167–190Google Scholar
  23. Kanizsa G, Renzi P, Conte S, Compostela C, Guerani L (1993) Amodal completion in mouse vision. Perception 22:713–721PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kellman PJ, Shipley TF (1991) A theory of visual interpolation in object perception. Cognit Psychol 23:141–221PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kovacs I, Julesz B (1993) A closed curve is much more than an incomplete one: effect of closure in figure-ground segmentation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 90:7495–7497PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee TS, Yang CF, Romero RD, Mumford D (2002) Neural activity in early visual cortex reflects behavioral experience and higher-order perceptual saliency. Nat Neurosci 5:589–597PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leeuwenberg EL (1971) A perceptual coding language for visual and auditory patterns. Am J Psychol 84:307–349PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lettvin J (1976) On seeing sidelong. Sciences 16:10–20Google Scholar
  29. Michotte A, Burke L (1951) Une nouvelle enigme dans la psychologie de la perception: le “donne amodal” dans l’experience sensorielle. In: Proceedings of the 13th international congress of psychology, pp 179–180Google Scholar
  30. Michotte A, Thinès G, Crabbé G (1964) Les Compléments Amodaux des Structures Perceptives. Louvain: Institute de psychologie de l’unversité de LouvainGoogle Scholar
  31. Murray RF, Sekuler AB, Bennett PJ (2001) Time course of amodal completion revealed by a shape discrimination task. Psychon Bull Rev 8:713–720PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Nikolaev AR, van Leeuwen C (2004) Flexibility in spatial and non-spatial feature grouping: an event-related potentials study. Cogn Brain Res 22:13–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pessoa L, de Weerd P (2003) Filling-in: from perceptual completion to cortical reorganization. New York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Pessoa L, Thompson E, Noe A (1998) Finding out about filling-in: a guide to perceptual completion for visual science and the philosophy of perception. Behav Brain Sci 21:723–748; discussion 748–802PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Peterhans E, von der Heydt R (1989) Mechanisms of contour perception in monkey visual cortex. II. Contours bridging gaps. J Neurosci 9:1749–1763PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Peterson MA, Hochberg J (1983) Opposed-set measurement procedure: a quantitative analysis of the role of local cues and intention in form perception. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 9:183–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Plomp G (2005) Amodal completion of occluded figures: what context uncovers. University of Sunderland, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  38. Plomp G, Liu L, van Leeuwen C, Ioannides AA (2006) The “mosaic stage” in amodal completion as characterized by magnetoencephalography responses. J Cogn Neurosci 18(8):1394–1405PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Plomp G, Nakatani C, Bonnardel V, van Leeuwen C (2004) Amodal completion as reflected by gaze durations. Perception 33:1185–1200PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Ramachandran VS, Gregory RL (1991) Perceptual filling in of artificially induced scotomas in human vision. Nature 350:699–702PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rauschenberger R, Yantis S (2001) Masking unveils pre-amodal completion representation in visual search. Nature 410:369–372PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rauschenberger R, Peterson MA, Mosca F, Bruno N (2004) Amodal completion in visual search: preemption or context effects? Psychol Sci 15:351–355PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Regolin L, Vallortigara G (1995) Perception of partly occluded objects by young chicks. Percept Psychophys 57:971–976PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Regolin L, Marconato F, Vallortigara G (2004) Hemispheric differences in the recognition of partly occluded objects by newly hatched domestic chicks (Gallus gallus). Anim Cogn 7:162–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rensink RA, Enns JT (1995) Preemption effects in visual search: evidence for low-level grouping. Psychol Rev 102:101–130PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rensink RA, Enns JT (1998) Early completion of occluded objects. Vision Res 38:2489–2505PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ringach DL, Shapley R (1996) Spatial and temporal properties of illusory contours and amodal boundary completion. Vision Res 36:3037–3050PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sekuler AB (1994) Local and global minima in visual completion: effects of symmetry and orientation. Perception 23:529–545PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sekuler AB, Palmer SE (1992) Perception of partly occluded objects: a microgenetic analysis. J Exp Psychol Gen 21:95–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shipley TF, Kellman PJ (2003) Boundary completion in illusory contours: interpolation or extrapolation? Perception 32:985–999PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shore DI, Enns JT (1997) Shape completion time depends on the size of the occluded region. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 23:980–998PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tse PU (1999a) Complete mergeability and amodal completion. Acta Psychol (Amst) 102:165–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tse PU (1999b) Volume completion. Cognit Psychol 39:37–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. van der Helm PA, Leeuwenberg EL (1996) Goodness of visual regularities: a nontransformational approach. Psychol Rev 103:429–456PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Lier RJ, Leeuwenberg EL, Van der Helm PA (1995) Multiple completions primed by occlusion patterns. Perception 24:727–740PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vanni S, Tanskanen T, Seppa M, Uutela K, Hari R (2001) Coinciding early activation of the human primary visual cortex and anteromedial cuneus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98:2776–2780PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yamada W, Fujita N, Masuda N (1993) Amodal completion as another perception of color-spreading stimuli. Percept Mot Skills 76:1027–1033PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Zemel RS, Behrmann M, Mozer MC (2002) Experience-dependent perceptual grouping and object-based attention. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 28:202–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zipser K, Lamme VA, Schiller PH (1996) Contextual modulation in primary visual cortex. J Neurosci 16:7376–7389PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gijs Plomp
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cees van Leeuwen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Perceptual DynamicsBSI RIKENSaitamaJapan
  2. 2.Business SchoolSunderland UniversitySunderlandUK

Personalised recommendations