The utility of defocus blur in binocular depth perception

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The question of whether defocus blur is a quantitative cue for depth perception is a topic of renewed interest. A recent study suggests that relative defocus blur can be used in computing depth throughout the visual field, particularly in regions where disparity loses precision. However, elements of the study’s experimental design and theoretical analysis appear to undermine this claim. First, the study did not provide evidence that blur can be used as a quantitative depth cue. It only measured blur discrimination thresholds, not perceived depth from for blur. Second, the study’s conceptualization of the complementary use of blur and disparity does not appear to generalize beyond the specific viewing geometry and fixation distance tested. I review existing empirical evidence on disparity and blur discrimination and detection thresholds to demonstrate that blur has little utility compared to binocular disparity. I suggest a different way in which defocus blur might affect depth perception. Since the gradient of defocus blur has been shown to be a cue to egocentric distance, it could contribute to quantitative depth perception by scaling depth relations specified by other relative depth cues.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number541–546
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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