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Vivian C. Paulun, Roland W. Fleming; Visually inferring elasticity from the motion trajectory of bouncing cubes. Journal of Vision 2020;20(6):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.6.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visually inferring the elasticity of a bouncing object poses a challenge to the visual system: The observable behavior of the object depends on its elasticity but also on extrinsic factors, such as its initial position and velocity. Estimating elasticity requires disentangling these different contributions to the observed motion. We created 2-second simulations of a cube bouncing in a room and varied the cube's elasticity in 10 steps. The cube's initial position, orientation, and velocity were varied randomly to gain three random samples for each level of elasticity. We systematically limited the visual information by creating three versions of each stimulus: (a) a full rendering of the scene, (b) the cube in a completely black environment, and (c) a rigid version of the cube following the same trajectories but without rotating or deforming (also in a completely black environment). Thirteen observers rated the apparent elasticity of the cubes and the typicality of their motion. Generally, stimuli were judged as less typical if they showed rigid motion without rotations, highly elastic cubes, or unlikely events. Overall, elasticity judgments correlated strongly with the true elasticity but did not show perfect constancy. Yet, importantly, we found similar results for all three stimulus conditions, despite significant differences in their apparent typicality. This suggests that the trajectory alone contains the information required to make elasticity judgments.
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