Induced Motion and Visual Stability in an Optic Flow Illusion
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When an expansion flow field of moving dots is overlapped by planar motion, observers perceive an illusory displacement of the focus of expansion (FOE) in the direction of the planar motion (Duffy & Wurtz, 1993. Vision Research, 33, 1481-1490). The illusion may be a consequence of induced motion, wherein an induced component of motion relative to planar dots is added to the motions of expansion dots to produce the FOE shift. Such a process could be mediated by local, "center-surround" receptive fields. Alternatively, the effect could be due to a higher level process which detects and subtracts large-field planar motion from the flow field. We probed the mechanisms underlying this illusion by adding varying amounts of rotation to the expansion stimulus, and by varying the speed and size of the planar motion field. The introduction of rotation into the stimulus produces an illusory shift in a direction perpendicular to the planar motion. Larger FOE shifts were perceived for greater speeds and sizes of planar motion fields, although the speed effect saturated at high speeds. While the illusion appears to share a common mechanism with center-surround induced motion, our results also point to involvement of a more global mechanism that subtracts coherent planar motion from the flow field. Such a process might serve as a means of maintaining visual stability during eye movements.