The effect of eccentricity on the linear-radial speed bias: Testing the motion-in-depth model

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Radial motion is perceived as faster than linear motion when local spatiotemporal properties are matched. This radial speed bias (RSB) is thought to occur because radial motion is partly interpreted as motion-in-depth. Geometry dictates that a fixed amount of radial expansion at increasing eccentricities is consistent with smaller motion in depth, so it is perhaps surprising that the impact of eccentricity on RSB has not been examined. With this issue in mind, across 3 experiments we investigated the RSB as a function of eccentricity. In a 2IFC task, participants judged which of a linear (test – variable speed) or radial (reference – 2 or 4 °/s) stimulus appeared to move faster. Linear and radial stimuli comprised 4 Gabor patches arranged left, right, above and below fixation at varying eccentricities (3.5°-14°). For linear stimuli, Gabors all drifted left or right, whereas for radial stimuli Gabors drifted towards or away from the centre. The RSB (difference in perceived speeds between matched linear and radial stimuli) was recovered from fitted psychometric functions. Across all 3 experiments we found that the RSB decreased with eccentricity but this tendency was less marked beyond 7° - i.e. at odds with the geometry, the effect did not continue to decrease as a function of eccentricity. This was true irrespective of whether stimuli were fixed in size (Experiment 1) or varied in size to account for changes in spatial scale across the retina (Experiment 2). It was also true when we removed conflicting stereo cues via monocular viewing (Experiment 3). To further investigate our data we extended the model of Clifford et al. (1999) which suggests perceived motion for such stimuli reflects a balance between two opposing perceptual interpretations, one for motion in depth and the other for object deformation. We propose, in the context of this model, that our data are consistent with placing greater weight on the motion in depth interpretation with increasing eccentricity and this is why the RSB does not continue to reduce in line with purely geometric constraints.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalVision Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Sep 2021