Paper in Nature Neuroscience
Kim J, Marlow P, Anderson B (2012). The dark side of gloss (featured on the cover of Nature Neuroscience). Nature Neuroscience, Accepted 17 August 2012.
Our visual system relies on the image structure generated by the interaction of light with objects to infer their material properties. One widely studied surface property is gloss, which can provide information that an object is smooth, shiny or wet. Studies have historically focused on the role of specular highlights in modulating perceived gloss. Here we show in human observers that glossy surfaces can generate both bright specular highlights and dark specular 'lowlights', and that the presence of either is sufficient to generate compelling percepts of gloss. We show that perceived gloss declines when the image structure generated by specular lowlights is blurred or misaligned with surrounding surface shading and that perceived gloss can arise from the presence of lowlights in surface regions isolated from highlights. These results suggest that the image structure generated by specular highlights and lowlights is used to construct our experience of surface gloss.