Perception of objects that are translating and rotating.
The motion of objects that are both translating and rotating can be decomposed into an infinite number of translational and rotational combinations. How, then, do such stimuli routinely elicit specific percepts and behavioral responses that are usually appropriate? A possible answer is that motion percepts are fully determined by the probability distributions of all the possible correspondences and differences in the stimulus sequence. To test the merits of this conceptual framework, we investigated the perceived motion elicited by a line that is both translating and rotating behind an aperture. When stimuli are presented such that a particular sequence of appearance and disappearance occurs at the aperture boundary, subjects report that the line is rotating only; furthermore, the perceived centers of rotation appear to describe a cycloidal trajectory, even when one aperture shape is replaced by another. These and other perceptual effects elicited by translating and rotating stimuli are all accurately predicted by the probability distribution of the possible sources of the physical movements, supporting the conclusion that motion perception is indeed generated by a wholly probabilistic strategy.
Yang, Z; Shimpi, A; Purves, D
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