Psychophysical evidence for a functional hierarchy of motion processing mechanisms


Bex PJ, Metha AB, Makous W. Psychophysical evidence for a functional hierarchy of motion processing mechanisms. Journal of the Optical Society of America [Internet]. 1998;15:769–76.


Current models of motion perception typically describe mechanisms that operate locally to extract direction and speed information. To deal with the movement of self or objects with respect to the environment, higher-level receptive fields are presumably assembled from the outputs of such local analyzers. We find that the apparent speed of gratings viewed through four spatial apertures depends on the interaction of motion directions among the apertures, even when the motion within each aperture is identical except for direction. Specifically, local motion consistent with a global pattern of radial motion appears 32% faster than that consistent with translational or rotational motion. The enhancement of speed is not reflected in detection thresholds and persists in spite of instructions to fixate a single local aperture and ignore the global configuration. We also find that a two-dimensional pattern of motion is necessary to elicit the effect and that motion contrast alone does not produce the enhancement. These results implicate at least two serial stages of motion-information processing: a mechanism to code the local direction and speed of motion, followed by a global mechanism that integrates such signals to represent meaningful patterns of movement, depending on the configuration of the local motions.