Computing relief structure from motion with a distributed velocity and disparity representation

Julian Martin Fernandez, Brendon Watson, and Ning Qian, Vision Research, 2002, 42:883-898.
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Recent psychophysical experiments suggest that humans can only recover relief structure from motion (SFM); i.e., an object's 3D shape can only be determined up to a stretching transformation along the line of sight. Here we propose a physiologically plausible model for the computation of relief SFM, which is also applicable to the related problem of motion parallax. We assume that the perception of depth from motion is related to the firing of a subset of MT neurons tuned to both velocity and disparity. The model MT neurons are connected to each other laterally to form modulatory interactions. The overall connectivity is such that when a zero-disparity velocity pattern is fed into the system, the most responsive neurons are not those tuned to zero disparity, but instead are those having preferred disparities consistent with the relief structure of the velocity pattern. The model computes the correct relief structure under a wide range of parameters and can also reproduce the SFM illusions involving coaxial cylinders. It is consistent with the psychophysical observation that subjects with stereo impairment are also deficient in perceiving motion parallax, and with the physiological data that the responses of direction- and disparity-tuned MT cells covary with the perceived surface order of bistable SFM stimuli.

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