415 research outputs found

    CAPTCHaStar! A novel CAPTCHA based on interactive shape discovery

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    Over the last years, most websites on which users can register (e.g., email providers and social networks) adopted CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) as a countermeasure against automated attacks. The battle of wits between designers and attackers of CAPTCHAs led to current ones being annoying and hard to solve for users, while still being vulnerable to automated attacks. In this paper, we propose CAPTCHaStar, a new image-based CAPTCHA that relies on user interaction. This novel CAPTCHA leverages the innate human ability to recognize shapes in a confused environment. We assess the effectiveness of our proposal for the two key aspects for CAPTCHAs, i.e., usability, and resiliency to automated attacks. In particular, we evaluated the usability, carrying out a thorough user study, and we tested the resiliency of our proposal against several types of automated attacks: traditional ones; designed ad-hoc for our proposal; and based on machine learning. Compared to the state of the art, our proposal is more user friendly (e.g., only some 35% of the users prefer current solutions, such as text-based CAPTCHAs) and more resilient to automated attacks.Comment: 15 page

    The occlusion illusion: partial modal completion or apparent distance?

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    In the occlusion illusion, the visible portion of a partly occluded object (eg a semicircle partly hidden behind a rectangle) appears to be significantly larger than a physically identical region that is fully visible. This illusion may occur either because the visual system 'fills in' a thin strip along the occluded border (the partial-modal-completion hypothesis) or because the partly occluded object is perceived as farther away (the apparent-distance hypothesis). We measured the magnitude of the occlusion illusion psychophysically in several experiments to investigate its causes. The results of experiments 1-3 are consistent with the general proposal that the magnitude of the illusion varies with the strength of the evidence for occlusion, supporting the inference that it is due to occlusion. Experiment 4 provides a critical test between apparent-distance and partial-modal-completion explanations by determining whether the increase in apparent size of the occluded region results from a change in its perceived shape (due to the modal extension of the occluded shape along the occluding edge, as predicted by the partial-modal-completion hypothesis) or from a change in its perceived overall size (as predicted by the apparent-distance hypothesis). The results more strongly support the partial-modal-completion hypothesis

    Judging distance across texture discontinuities

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    Sinai et al (1998 Nature 395 497 - 500) showed that less distance is perceived along a ground surface that spans two differently textured regions than along a surface that is uniformly textured. We examined the effect of texture continuity on judged distance using computer-generated displays of simulated surfaces in five experiments. Discontinuities were produced by using different textures, the same texture reversed in contrast, or the same texture shifted horizontally. The simulated surface was either a ground plane or a frontoparallel plane. For all textures and both orientations, less distance was judged in the discontinuous conditions than in continuous conditions. We propose that when a surface contains a texture discontinuity, a small area adjacent to the perceived boundary is excluded from judged distances

    Attentional modulations of the early and later stages of the neural processing of visual completion

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    The brain effortlessly recognizes objects even when the visual information belonging to an object is widely separated, as well demonstrated by the Kanizsa-type illusory contours (ICs), in which a contour is perceived despite the fragments of the contour being separated by gaps. Such large-range visual completion has long been thought to be preattentive, whereas its dependence on top-down influences remains unclear. Here, we report separate modulations by spatial attention and task relevance on the neural activities in response to the ICs. IC-sensitive event-related potentials that were localized to the lateral occipital cortex were modulated by spatial attention at an early processing stage (130–166 ms after stimulus onset) and modulated by task relevance at a later processing stage (234–290 ms). These results not only demonstrate top-down attentional influences on the neural processing of ICs but also elucidate the characteristics of the attentional modulations that occur in different phases of IC processing

    Osteocrin, a novel bone-specific secreted protein that modulates the osteoblast phenotype

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    Although a number of secreted factors have been demonstrated to be bone regulators, none of these are unique to bone. Using a viral- based signal- trap strategy we have identified a novel gene we have termed " osteocrin." A 1280- bp mRNA encodes osteocrin producing a mature protein of 103 amino acids with a molecular mass of 11.4 kDa. Osteocrin shows no homology with any known gene except for two conserved sequence motifs reminiscent of dibasic cleavage sites found in peptide hormone precursors. Immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis confirmed the secretory nature of osteocrin. Two protein species were identified in the medium of cells overexpressing osteocrin, a full- length 11.4 kDa species and a processed similar to 5 kDa species. Mutation of the (KKKR79)-K-76 dibasic cleavage site abolished the appearance of this smaller osteocrin fragment. By in situ hybridization in mouse embryos, osteocrin was expressed specifically in Cbfa- 1- positive, osteocalcin- negative osteoblasts. Immunohistochemistry on adult mouse bone showed osteocrin localization in osteoblasts and young osteocytes. By Northern blot analysis, osteocrin expression was only detected in bone, expression peaking just after birth and decreasing markedly with age. In primary osteoblastic cell cultures osteocrin expression coincided with matrix formation then decreased in very mature cultures. Treatment of cultures with 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D-3 resulted in a rapid dose- dependent down- regulation of osteocrin expression, suggesting direct regulation. Chronic treatment of primary cultures with osteocrin- conditioned media inhibited mineralization and reduced osteocalcin and alkaline phosphatase expression. These results suggest that osteocrin represents a novel, unique vitamin D- regulated bone- specific protein that appears to act as a soluble osteoblast regulator

    Predicting Eye Fixations on Complex Visual Stimuli Using Local Symmetry

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    Most bottom-up models that predict human eye fixations are based on contrast features. The saliency model of Itti, Koch and Niebur is an example of such contrast-saliency models. Although the model has been successfully compared to human eye fixations, we show that it lacks preciseness in the prediction of fixations on mirror-symmetrical forms. The contrast model gives high response at the borders, whereas human observers consistently look at the symmetrical center of these forms. We propose a saliency model that predicts eye fixations using local mirror symmetry. To test the model, we performed an eye-tracking experiment with participants viewing complex photographic images and compared the data with our symmetry model and the contrast model. The results show that our symmetry model predicts human eye fixations significantly better on a wide variety of images including many that are not selected for their symmetrical content. Moreover, our results show that especially early fixations are on highly symmetrical areas of the images. We conclude that symmetry is a strong predictor of human eye fixations and that it can be used as a predictor of the order of fixation

    Towards a Mathematical Theory of Cortical Micro-circuits

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    The theoretical setting of hierarchical Bayesian inference is gaining acceptance as a framework for understanding cortical computation. In this paper, we describe how Bayesian belief propagation in a spatio-temporal hierarchical model, called Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM), can lead to a mathematical model for cortical circuits. An HTM node is abstracted using a coincidence detector and a mixture of Markov chains. Bayesian belief propagation equations for such an HTM node define a set of functional constraints for a neuronal implementation. Anatomical data provide a contrasting set of organizational constraints. The combination of these two constraints suggests a theoretically derived interpretation for many anatomical and physiological features and predicts several others. We describe the pattern recognition capabilities of HTM networks and demonstrate the application of the derived circuits for modeling the subjective contour effect. We also discuss how the theory and the circuit can be extended to explain cortical features that are not explained by the current model and describe testable predictions that can be derived from the model