The Perception of Globally Coherent Motion
Todd, James T.
Norman, J. Farley
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How do human observers perceive a coherent pattern of motion from a disparate set of local motion measures? Our research has examined how ambiguous motion signals along straight contours are spatially integrated to obtain a globally coherent perception of motion. Observers viewed displays containing a large number of apertures, with each aperture containing one or more contours whose orientations and velocities could be independently specified. The total pattern of the contour trajectories across the individual apertures was manipulated to produce globally coherent motions, such as rotations, expansions, or translations. For displays containing only straight contours extending to the circumferences of the apertures, observers' reports of global motion direction were biased whenever the sampling of contour orientations was asymmetric relative to the direction of motion. Performance was improved by the presence of identifiable features, such as line ends or crossings, whose trajectories could be tracked over time. The reports of our observers were consistent with a pooling process involving a vector average of measures of the component of velocity normal to contour orientation, rather than with the predictions of the intersection-of-constraints analysis in velocity space.