An unexplained three-dimensional percept emerging from a bundle of lines

Eric L. Altschuler, Abigail E. Huang, Hee J. Kim, Luca Battaglini, Sergio Roncato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Perceptual grouping has been extensively studied, but some areas are still unexplored—in particular, the figural organizations that emerge when bundles of intersecting lines are drawn. Here, we will describe some figural organizations that emerge after the superimposition of bundles of lines forming the profile of regular triangular waves. By manipulating the lines’ jaggedness and junction geometry (regular or irregular X junction) we could generate the following organizations: (a) a grid, or a figural configuration in which both the lines and closed contours are perceived, (b) a figure–ground organization composed of figures separated by portions of the background, and (c) a corrugated surface appearing as a multifaceted polyhedral shell crossed by ridges and valleys. An experiment was conducted with the aim at testing the role of the good-continuation and closure Gestalt factors. Good continuation prevails when the lines are straight or close to straightness, but its role is questionable in the appearance of a corrugated surface. This perceptual organization occurs despite the violation of the good-continuation rule and consists of a structure of such complexity so as to challenge algorithms of computer vision and stimulate a deeper understanding of the perceptual interpretation of groups of lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2108-2116
Number of pages9
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 2D shape and form
  • 3D perception: *Other


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