Chapter 8 - Irradiation and Brightness-Contrast: IrradiationAny man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error. - Andrew Jackson
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Chapter 8 - Irradiation and Brightness-Contrast:
Brightness and Contrast
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Chapter 8 - Irradiation and Brightness-Contrast:
Irradiation

A remarkable effect which may be partially attributable to irradiation can be produced by crossing a grating of parallel black lines with an oblique black line. At the actual crossings the black appears to run up the narrow angle somewhat like ink would under the influence of surface tension. This is particularly striking when two gratings or even two ordinary fly-screens are superposed. The effect is visible when passing two picket-fences, one beyond the other. If a dark object is held so that a straight edge appears to cross a candle-flame or other light-source, at this portion the straight edge will appear to have a notch in it.

Irradiation in general has been defined as the lateral diffusion of nervous stimuli beyond the actual stimulus. It is not confined to the visual sense but irradiation for this sense is a term applied to the apparent enlargement of bright surfaces at the expense of adjacent darker surfaces. The crescent of the new moon appears larger in radius than the faint outline of the darker portion which is feebly illuminated chiefly by light reflected from the earth's surface. A filament of a lamp appears to grow in size as the current through it is slowly increased from a zero value; that is, as it increases in brightness. In Fig. 65 the small inner squares are of the same size but the white square appears larger than the black one. It seems that this apparent increase is made at the expense of the adjacent dark area. This phenomenon or optical illusion is strongest when the brightness is most intense, and is said to be greatest when the accommodation is imperfect. A very intense light-source may appear many times larger than its actual physical size.

Related Image
Fig. 65. - The phenomenon of irradiation.

Doubtless a number of factors may play a part in this phenomenon. It appears possible that there is a rapid spreading of the excitation over the retina extending quite beyond the border of the more intensely stimulated region, but this must be practically instantaneous in order to satisfy results of experiments. Eye-movements may play some part for, despite the most serious efforts to fixate the point of sight, a fringe will appear on the borders of images which is certainly due to involuntary eye-movements.

Irradiation has also been ascribed to spherical aberration in the eye-lens and to diffraction of light at the pupil. Printed type appears considerably reduced in size when the pupil is dilated with atropin and is restored to normal appearance when a small artificial pupil is placed before the dilated pupil. It has been suggested that chromatic aberration in the eye-lens is a contributory cause, but this cannot be very important, for the optical illusion is visible with mono-chromatic light which eliminates chromatic aberration. The experimental evidence appears to indicate that the phenomenon is of a physical nature.

There are variations in the effects attributable to radiation, and it is difficult to reduce them to simple terms. Perhaps it may aid the reader to have before him the classification presented by Boswell. [Irradiation of Light, F. P. Boswell, Psych. Bul. 1905, 2, p. 200.] He describes the varieties of irradiation as follows:

1. Very rapid spreading of the excitation over the retina extending far beyond the border of the stimulated region and occurring immediately upon impact of the stimulating light.

2. Irradiation within the stimulated portion of the retina after the form of a figure becomes distinctly perceptible.

3. Emanations of decreasing intensity extend themselves outward and backward from a moving image until lost in the darkness of the background.

4. A well known form of irradiation which occurs when a surface of greater intensity enlarges itself at the expense of one of less intensity.

5. A form having many of the characteristics of the first type, but occurring only after long periods of stimulation, of the magnitude of 30 to 60 seconds or more.

Continue on to Chapter 9 on Color



Chapter 8 - Irradiation and Brightness-Contrast:
Brightness and Contrast
1   2    

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About This Book Preface Chap 1, Introduction Chap 2, The Eye Chap 3, Vision Chap 4, Geometrical Chap 5, Figures Chap 6, Angles Chap 7, Depth/Distance Chap 8 Brightness/Contrast Chap 9, Color Chap 10, Lighting Chap 11, Nature Chap 12, Painting/Decorating Chap 13, Architecture Chap 14, Magic Mirror Chap 15, Camouflage

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