Rotating dotted ellipses: Motion perception driven by grouped figural rather than local dot motion signals


UNLABELLED Unlike the motion of a continuous contour, the motion of a single dot is unambiguous and immune to the aperture problem. Here we exploit this fact to explore the conditions under which unambiguous local motion signals are used to drive global percepts of an ellipse undergoing rotation. In previous work, we have shown that a thin, high aspect ratio ellipse will appear to rotate faster than a lower aspect ratio ellipse even when the two in fact rotate at the same angular velocity [Caplovitz, G. P., Hsieh, P. -J., & Tse, P. U. (2006) Mechanisms underlying the perceived angular velocity of a rigidly rotating object. Vision Research, 46(18), 2877-2893]. In this study we examined the perceived speed of rotation of ellipses defined by a virtual contour made up of evenly spaced dots. RESULTS Ellipses defined by closely spaced dots exhibit the speed illusion observed with continuous contours. That is, thin dotted ellipses appear to rotate faster than fat dotted ellipses when both rotate at the same angular velocity. This illusion is not observed if the dots defining the ellipse are spaced too widely apart. A control experiment ruled out low spatial frequency "blurring" as the source of the illusory percept. CONCLUSION Even in the presence of local motion signals that are immune to the aperture problem, the global percept of an ellipse undergoing rotation can be driven by potentially ambiguous motion signals arising from the non-local form of the grouped ellipse itself. Here motion perception is driven by emergent motion signals such as those of virtual contours constructed by grouping procedures. Neither these contours nor their emergent motion signals are present in the image.

DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2006.12.022

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@article{Caplovitz2007RotatingDE, title={Rotating dotted ellipses: Motion perception driven by grouped figural rather than local dot motion signals}, author={Gideon P. Caplovitz and P. U. Tse}, journal={Vision Research}, year={2007}, volume={47}, pages={1979-1991} }