Tachistoscopic illumination and masking of real scenes
Tachistoscopic presentation of scenes has been valuable for studying the emerging properties of visual scene representations. The spatial aspects of this work have generally been focused on the conceptual locations (e.g., next to the refrigerator) and directional locations of objects in 2-D arrays and/or images. Less is known about how the perceived egocentric distance of objects develops. Here we describe a novel system for presenting brief glimpses of a real-world environment, followed by a mask. The system includes projectors with mechanical shutters for projecting the fixation and masking images, a set of LED floodlights for illuminating the environment, and computer-controlled electronics to set the timing and initiate the process. Because a real environment is used, most visual distance and depth cues can be manipulated using traditional methods. The system is inexpensive, robust, and its components are readily available in the marketplace. This article describes the system and the timing characteristics of each component. We verified the system's ability to control exposure to time scales as low as a few milliseconds.