The Simultaneous Lightness Contrast is the condition whereby a grey patch on a dark background appears lighter than a physically identical patch on a light background. This is probably the most studied phenomenon in lightness perception. Although this phenomenon has been explained in terms of low-level mechanisms, convincing evidences supporting a high-level interpretation have been presented over the last decades. Two are the main high-level interpretations. On one side, the layer approach claims that the visual system splits the luminance into separate overlapping layers, corresponding to separate physical contributions; whilst on the other side, the framework approach maintains that the visual system groups the luminance within a set of contiguous frameworks. One of the biggest weaknesses of the layer approach is that it cannot account properly for errors in lightness perception (Gilchrist, 2005 Current Biology, 15(9), 330–332). To extend the multiple layers interpretation to errors in lightness perception, in this study we show that the perceptual lightness difference among equal patches on different backgrounds increases even when the luminance contrast with their backgrounds shrinks. Specifically, it is shown that the perceptual lightness difference among equal patches on different backgrounds intensifies when a small-sized semi-transparent surface is interposed between the patches and the backgrounds. This result indicates that in these conditions the visual system besides decomposing the luminance into separate layers also becomes liable for a luminance misattribution. It is proposed that the photometric and geometric relationships among the luminance edges in the image might account for this misattribution.
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