Simple-pooling of unidirectional motion predicts speed discrimination for looming stimuli
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Looming objects comprise many 2D unidirectional motion elements changing over time. However, observers assign a single 3D speed to looming objects, not many independent unidirectional speeds to different regions of the object. These experiments examined speed discrimination for looming stimuli to illuminate the mechanisms underlying the perception of 3D motion. Speed discrimination thresholds for looming displays were comparable to those of fronto-parallel translating and rotating displays (approximately 5%), and thresholds were predicted from the simple linear combination of 2D unidirectional thresholds. These results suggest that 2D unidirectional motion and looming motion are not independent: the simple pooling of unidirectional motion units limits sensitivity to looming stimuli. These results do not support the notion that the visual system directly encodes relative motion within a distinct channel.
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