Denis Pelli

Denis Pelli
New York University | NYU · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

196
Publications
44,544
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Publications

Publications (196)
Preprint
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The core of everyday tasks like reading and driving is active object recognition. Attempts to model such tasks are currently stymied by the inability to incorporate time. People show a flexible tradeoff between speed and accuracy and this tradeoff is a crucial human skill. Deep neural networks have emerged as promising candidates for predicting pea...
Poster
Full-text available
Intuitively, various factors contribute to beauty judgments. However, there is no empirical evidence that indicates whether rating beauty is unidimensional (e.g., like rating luminance) or multidimensional (e.g., like rating color). A few years after Shannon’s (1948) introduction of communication theory, Miller (1956) used mutual information to des...
Article
Beauty judgments, at least in part, determine what we wear, where we eat, and who we swipe right on Tinder. However, beauty judgments vary greatly across individuals, and a new study highlights the importance of assessing these individual differences.
Preprint
The intrinsic variance of a beauty rating is the essential baseline for evaluating how beauty ratings vary within and across individuals. Given independent repeated measures, it’s easy to estimate the variance of the distribution underlying one judgment. However, in the context of beauty, effects of assimilation, contrast, and recall-memory might p...
Article
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Sensory cortical mechanisms combine auditory or visual features into perceived objects. This is difficult in noisy or cluttered environments. Knowing that individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility to clutter, we wondered whether there might be a relation between an individual’s auditory and visual susceptibilities to clutter. In auditory mas...
Article
Full-text available
Population receptive field (pRF) models fit to fMRI data are used to non-invasively measure retinotopic maps in human visual cortex, and these maps are a fundamental component of visual neuroscience experiments. Here, we examined the reproducibility of retinotopic maps across two datasets: a newly acquired retinotopy dataset from New York Universit...
Article
Full-text available
Many philosophers and psychologists have made claims about what is felt in an experience of beauty. Here, we test how well these claims match the feelings that people report while looking at an image, or listening to music, or recalling a personal experience of beauty. We conducted ten experiments (total n = 851) spanning three nations (US, UK, and...
Poster
Full-text available
Measuring intraindividual variability of beauty judgment is key to understanding the repeatability of beauty ratings within and between individuals. To calculate intraindividual variability using repeated measures, the repeated measures must be independent. Sequential dependencies, which occur when previous ratings influence following ones, threate...
Preprint
Full-text available
Population receptive field (pRF) models fit to fMRI data are used to non-invasively measure retinotopic maps in human visual cortex, and these maps are a fundamental component of visual neuroscience experiments. Here, we examined the reproducibility of retinotopic maps across two datasets: a newly acquired retinotopy dataset from New York Universit...
Poster
Full-text available
The intrinsic variance of beauty judgment is key to modeling beauty ratings. However, in repeated measures of beauty, observers surely make use of what they remember. To test how memory contributes to repeated beauty ratings, we asked participants to rate 75 arbitrarily named images (e.g., Fred). Initially, participants rated (1 to 7) how much beau...
Preprint
Full-text available
Crowding is the failure to recognize an object due to surrounding clutter. Its strength varies across the visual field and individuals. To characterize the statistics of crowding—ultimately to relate psychophysics of crowding to physiology—we measured radial crowding distance and acuity of 105 observers along the four cardinal meridians of the visu...
Article
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-020-02218-5
Preprint
Full-text available
Neural networks today often recognize objects as well as people do, and thus might serve as models of the human recognition process. However, most such networks provide their answer after a fixed computational effort, whereas human reaction time varies, e.g. from 0.2 to 10 s, depending on the properties of stimulus and task. To model the effect of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Many philosophers and psychologists have made claims about the feelings in an experience of beauty. Here, we test how well these claims match the feelings that people report while looking at an image or listening to music that is beautiful to them, or recalling a personal experience of beauty. We conducted ten experiments (total n = 851) spanning t...
Article
Full-text available
How many pleasures can you track? In a previous study, we showed that people can simultaneously track the pleasure they experience from two images. Here, we push further, probing the individual and combined pleasures felt from seeing four images in one glimpse. Participants (N = 25) viewed 36 images spanning the entire range of pleasure. Each trial...
Article
For Bentham (1781), pleasure is the only value that matters. To test this, we used an auction task to measure the monetary value of three different kinds of object: postcards, snacks, and money lotteries. Undergraduate students bid up to $4.00 on each item. They also viewed each stimulus and rated how much pleasure they felt from it on a scale of 1...
Preprint
Scene text recognition models have advanced greatly in recent years. Inspired by human reading we characterize two important scene text recognition models by measuring their domains i.e. the range of stimulus images that they can read. The domain specifies the ability of readers to generalize to different word lengths, fonts, and amounts of occlusi...
Poster
Full-text available
Choosing often demands that we assess the pleasures of multiple objects at once. Last year at VSS, we showed that people can keep track of at least two pleasures independently. Here, we probe this limit and ask whether they can also track four. Participants (N = 18) viewed 36 OASIS images that uniformly span the entire range of pleasure (from very...
Poster
Full-text available
Many philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel, gave normative definitions of beauty. But do these definitions match how people experience beauty today? And how similar are the felt beauties of music and images? We presented songs (N = 93) and art- and stock-images (N = 99). For each one, we asked participants to use 7-point scales...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The relation of morality to aesthetics matters in many fields, including social, perceptual, and cognitive psychology. Moral and aesthetic judgments mutually influence one another: People’s physical attractiveness influences how honest and trustworthy they appear, and people’s character influences how we judge their appearance. However, previous st...
Poster
Full-text available
For Bentham (1781), pleasure is the only value that matters. To test this, we used an auction task to measure the monetary value of three different kinds of object: postcards, snacks, and money lotteries. Undergraduate students bid up to $4.00 on each item. They also viewed each stimulus and rated how much pleasure they felt from it on a scale of 1...
Article
Full-text available
Can people track several pleasures? In everyday life, pleasing stimuli rarely appear in isolation. Yet, experiments on aesthetic pleasure usually present only one image at a time. Here, we ask whether people can reliably report the pleasure of either of two images seen in a single glimpse. Participants (N = 13 in the original; +25 in the preregiste...
Article
Full-text available
At the beginning of psychology, Fechner (1876) claimed that beauty is immediate pleasure, and that an object’s pleasure determines its value. In our earlier work, we found that intense pleasure always results in intense beauty. Here, we focus on the inverse: Is intense pleasure necessary for intense beauty? If so, the inability to experience pleasu...
Poster
Full-text available
Many philosophers, including Plato, Kant, and Hegel, gave normative definitions of beauty. For instance, Kant claimed that beauty entails a disinterested pleasure that feels universal. But do these definitions match how people experience beauty today? To answer this question, we asked 100 participants to rate their experience of 15 images (pre-rate...
Poster
Full-text available
Since the beginning of psychology, researchers have tried to understand beauty. Here, we address two of the oldest questions about it. First, Fechner (1876) claimed that beauty is immediate pleasure, and that an object’s pleasure determines its value. Focusing on the first claim, if beauty is pleasure then inability to experience pleasure (anhedoni...
Article
Neuroaesthetics is a rapidly developing interdisciplinary field of research that aims to understand the neural substrates of aesthetic experience: While understanding aesthetic experience has been an objective of philosophers for centuries, it has only more recently been embraced by neuroscientists. Recent work in neuroaesthetics has revealed that...
Presentation
Full-text available
Philosophers claim that beauty is a kind of pleasure. Here, we empirically test a mathematical model that describes the beauty-pleasure relation. Participants (N=18) continuously rate pleasure while viewing images for 5 s and for another 10 s after. At the end of each trial, they rate their overall feeling of beauty on a four-point scale. First, we...
Presentation
Full-text available
Philosophers, psychologists, and common sense agree that beauty is a kind of pleasure. Here, we assess the relationships between the intensity of beauty, valence (pleasure vs. displeasure), arousal (calm vs. excited), anhedonia, and depression. We use the 900 OASIS images and their normative valence and arousal scores. In this study, 757 participan...
Preprint
Today many vision-science presentations employ machine learning, especially the version called “deep learning”. Many neuroscientists use machine learning to decode neural responses. Many perception scientists try to understand how living organisms recognize objects. To them, deep neural networks offer benchmark accuracies for recognition of learned...
Article
Our everyday lives are full of aesthetic experiences. We wake up and frown at an overcast sky, or smile at the sight of the sun. Myriad decisions depend on the aesthetic appeal of the available options like which shirt to wear, which route to take to work, or where to eat. Even life-changing decisions, like where to live or who to live with, are pa...
Poster
Full-text available
Beauty is described as one of the goals of humankind, alongside truth and goodness. Values are the basis for decision making. In decision theory, a rational decision maker’s preferences will be transitive along the dimension of expected value. Is beauty a value? Are our beauty preferences transitive? If so, then beauty ratings must be one-dimension...
Poster
Full-text available
Can observers keep track of each pleasure, while enjoying several? In everyday life, pleasing images are rarely isolated. Yet, experiments on aesthetic pleasure usually present only one image at a time. Here we ask whether people can reliably report the pleasure of an image even if another image is presented simultaneously and both need to be atten...
Article
Full-text available
Over time, how does beauty develop and decay? Common sense suggests that beauty is intensely felt only after prolonged experience of the object. Here, we present one of various stimuli for a variable duration (1-30 s), measure the observers' pleasure over time, and, finally, ask whether they felt beauty. On each trial, participants (N = 21) either...
Poster
Full-text available
In everyday life, pleasing images are rarely isolated. Yet, experiments on aesthetic pleasure usually present only one image at a time. Here we ask whether people can reliably report the pleasure of an image even if another image is presented simultaneously. Participants (N=14) viewed 36 OASIS-3-database images that uniformly span the entire range...
Poster
Full-text available
Philosophers claim that beauty is a kind of pleasure. We empirically investigate the perceptual processes underlying beauty experiences. In our experiments, participants continuously rate their pleasure while experiencing various stimuli (seeing images of various kinds, touching an unseen teddy bear, eating candy) and for another 60 s after. And, a...
Article
Full-text available
The experience of beauty is a pleasure, but common sense and philosophy suggest that feeling beauty differs from sensuous pleasures such as eating or sex. Immanuel Kant [1, 2] claimed that experiencing beauty requires thought but that sensuous pleasure can be enjoyed without thought and cannot be beautiful. These venerable hypotheses persist in mod...
Article
Full-text available
Visual agnosia is a neuropsychological impairment of visual object recognition despite near-normal acuity and visual fields. A century of research has provided only a rudimentary account of the functional damage underlying this deficit. We find that the object-recognition ability of agnosic patients viewing an object directly is like that of normal...
Article
Imagine catching a glimpse of Monet's Water Lilies in an art museum. How long must one look at an image to experience beauty? We examined how exposure duration affects the experience of beauty. Before the experiment, we asked participants to, "pick images that are movingly beautiful to you" from Google images. We also selected moderately rated non-...
Article
Full-text available
People readily distinguish beauty experiences from other mundane pleasures. This intuition is reflected in models of aesthetic experience and confirmed by fMRI evidence that prefrontal regions and the default mode network are selectively involved in experiencing beauty. This is consistent with Immanuel Kant's notion that "beauty requires thought" b...
Article
We report a connection between effects of crowding and noise. In the periphery, it is impossible to identify a target in clutter, unless the clutter is at least a critical spacing away. The area enclosed by the critical spacing is the "combining field". Measuring thresholds in various levels of full-field white noise, we decompose threshold contras...
Poster
Full-text available
People spend incredible amounts of money for original artworks and live music. Why? Perfect copies and high-quality recordings are available for less than one percent the price. Newman and Bloom (2012) have shown that people assign a higher monetary value to art objects that have had direct contact with the artist, suggesting that authenticity is k...
Poster
Full-text available
People readily distinguish beauty experiences from other mundane pleasures. Immanuel Kant famously noted that “beauty requires thought”. Here we experimentally test Kant’s hypothesis. Participants were presented with beautiful images (self- or experimenter-selected), ordinary pleasures (pretty image or eating candy), or neutral images for 30 s. Dur...
Poster
Full-text available
People readily distinguish beauty experiences from other mundane pleasures. This intuition is confirmed by fMRI evidence that prefrontal regions involved in working memory and the default mode network are selectively involved in experiencing beauty. This suggests that Immanuel Kant’s notion that “beauty requires thought” may apply to neural process...
Article
Full-text available
Crowding is a major limitation of visual perception. Because of crowding, a simple object, like a letter, can only be recognized if clutter is a certain critical spacing away. Crowding is only weakly associated with acuity. The critical spacing of crowding is lowest in the normal fovea, and grows with increasing eccentricity in peripheral vision. F...
Conference Paper
The limits to human visual sensitivity can be factored into equivalent input noise, mostly due to unreliable communication, and efficiency, mostly due to suboptimal algorithms.
Article
Full-text available
Grouping and crowding have each received much study, but, because they can be avoided, they have seemed marginal to the mystery of how people recognize objects. We begin by showing that the same image parameters that promote grouping also promote crowding. Joining grouping and crowding theories suggests a unified account in which grouping and crowd...
Article
Visual agnosia is a neuropsychological impairment of visual object recognition. In spite of over a century of research, little is known about the nature of the functional damage underlying this deficit. We propose that the agnosic deficit is visual crowding: The central vision of agnosic patients is crowded, like the peripheral vision of normally s...
Article
Full-text available
When you look at your beauty and I look at mine, do we have the same feeling? Kant (1764) and Santayana (1896) say that the experience of beauty is pleasure, with qualifications. So we measure pleasure. Observers use Google Images to find an image that is beautiful to them. The observer is asked to look at that image and rate pleasure by continuall...
Article
Theinability to recognize a peripheral target among flankers is called crowding. For a foveal target, crowding can be distinguished from overlap masking by its sparing of detection, linear scaling with eccentricity, and invariance with target size.Crowding depends on the proximity and similarity of the flankers to the target. Flankers that are far...
Article
CROWDING IS THE INABILITY TO IDENTIFY AN OBJECT AMONG FLANKERS IN THE PERIPHERY: It is due to inappropriate incorporation of features from flanking objects in perception of the target. Crowding is characterized by measuring critical spacing, the minimum distance needed between a target and flankers to allow recognition. The existing Bouma law state...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background / Purpose: We have implemented two machine-learning models of object recognition by human observers. Both models capture three hallmarks of human performance that cannot be accounted for by template matching: spatial frequency channels, crowding, effects of letter complexity. One model is a Convolutional Neural Network (ConvNet), a...
Conference Paper
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Background / Purpose: We studied the duration of pleasure in the experience of beauty. Main conclusion: We found that high, long-lasting pleasure is a hallmark of the beauty response.
Article
Full-text available
Here, we systematically explore the size and spacing requirements for identifying a letter among other letters. We measure acuity for flanked and unflanked letters, centrally and peripherally, in normals and amblyopes. We find that acuity, overlap masking, and crowding each demand a minimum size or spacing for readable text. Just measuring flanked...
Poster
Full-text available
We have implemented two machine-learning models of object recognition by human observers. Both models capture two hallmarks of human performance: (1) spatial frequency channels, (2) effects of font complexity. One model is a Convolutional Neural Network (ConvNet), and the other is a texture statistics model followed by a simple classifier. With app...
Article
Immediately before a large eye movement, a target object is crowded by clutter near the target's future location. This new finding, from a recent study, shows that the brain's remapping for the anticipated eye movement unavoidably combines features from the target's current and future retinal locations into one perceptual object.
Article
Full-text available
To understand why human sensitivity for complex objects is so low, we study how word identification combines eye and ear or parts of a word (features, letters, syllables). Our observers identify printed and spoken words presented concurrently or separately. When researchers measure threshold (energy of the faintest visible or audible signal) they m...
Data
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Individual summation curves for each of the ten observers for Experiments 1 and 2. Models’ predictions and averaged data appear in Fig. 2. The summation index k is the exponent of a smooth curve (Eq. 1) fitted to the normalized threshold energies. The curves represent degrees of summation ranging from none (k = 0) to complete (k = 1). Each error ba...
Data
Full-text available
Notes on our survey of summation. For each paper, we explain how we estimated k for our Table 1. (PDF)
Data
Text and speech demo. Each movie-player box presents a sentence in noise. The first is just audio; the second is just visual; the third is audiovisual. It’s hard with audio or visual alone, and easier with both together. The demo works fine with speakers, but you’ll hear it better with headphones. Visual efficiency is higher for smaller letters, so...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Contrast sensitivity defines the threshold between the visible and invisible, which has obvious significance for basic and clinical vision science. Fechner’s 1860 review reported that threshold contrast is 1% for a remarkably wide range of targets and conditions. While printed charts are still in use, computer testing is becoming more pop...
Article
To recognize an object, it is widely supposed that we first detect and then combine its features. Familiar objects are recognized effortlessly, but unfamiliar objects-like new faces or foreign-language letters-are hard to distinguish and must be learned through practice. Here, we describe a method that separates detection and combination and reveal...
Article
Full-text available
Reading speed matters in most real-world contexts, and it is a robust and easy aspect of reading to measure. Theories of reading should account for speed.
Conference Paper
Background / Purpose: There is great interest in designing fonts and electronic methods of display to increase reading speed, but so far, any improvements have been modest. Visual span is the number of letters that can be identified with a single fixation, letters beyond this are too crowded to recognize. If crowding can be reduced so that more l...