The ratio of the vertical sizes of corresponding features in the two eyes' retinal images depends both on the associated object's distance and on its horizontal direction relative to the head (eccentricity). It is known that manipulations of vertical size ratio can affect perceived distance, size, depth and shape. We examined how observers use the vertical size ratio to determine the viewing distance. Do they use the horizontal gradient of vertical size ratio, or do they combine the vertical size ratio itself with the eccentricity at which it is found? Distance scaling (as measured by having subjects set an ellipsoid's size and shape to match a tennis ball) was no better when the judged object was 30° to the right of the head (where vertical size ratios vary considerably with distance) than when it was located straight ahead. Distance scaling improved when vertical disparities were presented within larger visual fields, irrespective of where this was relative to the head. Our results support the proposal that subjects use the horizontal gradient of vertical size ratio to estimate the distance of an object that they are looking at.
- Binocular vision