Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In contour integration, increased difficulty in detection and shape discrimination of a chain of parallel elements (a ladder contour) compared to collinear elements (a snake contour) suggests more extensive processing of ladders than of snakes. In addition, conceptual similarities between ladders and textures - which also involve grouping of parallel elements - raises the question whether ladder and texture processing requires feedback from higher visual areas while snakes are processed in a fast feedforward sweep. We tested this in a response priming paradigm, where participants responded as quickly and accurately as possible to the orientation of a diagonal contour in a Gabor array (target). The diagonal was defined either by a snake, ladder, texture, or a continuous line. The target was preceded with varying stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) by a prime that was either a snake, ladder, or texture, and was consistent or inconsistent to the response demands of the target. Resulting priming effects clearly distinguished between processing of snakes, ladders, and textures. Effects generally increased with SOA but were stronger for snakes and textures compared to ladders. Importantly, only priming effects for snakes were fully present already in the fastest response times, in accordance with a simple feedforward processing model. We conclude that snakes, ladders, and textures do not share similar processing characteristics, with snakes exhibiting a pronounced processing advantage.

Original publication




Journal article


Vision Res




174 - 182


Contour integration, Feedforward, Ladder, Response priming, Snake, Texture segregation, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Form Perception, Humans, Male, Models, Psychological, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Psychophysics, Reaction Time, Young Adult