A Novel Speed Illusion Involving Expansion and Rotation Patterns

Bard J. Geesaman and Ning Qian, Vision Research, 1996, 36:3281-3292.
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Using random dot stimuli well-controlled for dot speed, we found that the moving features in expanding patterns appear to move faster than those in rotating patterns. The illusion is well correlated with the strength of the global motion signal. For example, in displays where the number of motion directions defining the patterns is reduced, the magnitude of the illusion decreases. Similarly, the strength of the effect diminishes as dot density is reduced. In patterns where only wedge-shaped segments of the stimuli are left exposed, the difference in perceived speed increases with the angular size of the wedge. Stimulus placement relative to the fixation point has little effect on the persistence of this phenomenon - expansion patterns appear to contain elements of greater speed, independent of stimulus eccentricity. These results argue against a local explanation for this perceptual illusion, suggesting that the global motion pattern of the stimulus, per se, is responsible.

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