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Takehiro Nagai, R. Dirk Beer, Erin A. Krizay, Donald I. A. MacLeod; Spatiotemporal averaging of perceived brightness along an apparent motion trajectory. Journal of Vision 2011;11(7):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.7.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Objects are critical functional units for many aspects of visual perception and recognition. Many psychophysical experiments support the concept of an “object file” consisting of characteristics attributed to a single object on the basis of successive views of it, but there has been little evidence that object identity influences apparent brightness and color. In this study, we investigated whether the perceptual identification of successive flashed stimuli as views of a single moving object could affect brightness perception. Our target stimulus was composed of eight wedge-shaped sectors. The sectors were presented successively at different inter-flash intervals along an annular trajectory. At inter-flash intervals of around 100 ms, the impression was of a single moving object undergoing long-range apparent motion. By modulating the luminance between successive views, we measured the perception of luminance modulation along the trajectory of this long-range apparent motion. At the inter-flash intervals where the motion perception was strongest, the luminance difference was perceptually underestimated, and forced-choice luminance discrimination thresholds were elevated. Moreover, under such conditions, it became difficult for the observer to correctly associate or “bind” spatial positions and wedge luminances. These results indicate that the different luminances of wedges that were perceived as a single object were averaged along its apparent motion trajectory. The large spatial step size of our stimulus makes it unlikely that the results could be explained by averaging in a low-level mechanism that has a compact spatiotemporal receptive field (such as V1 and V2 neurons); higher level global motion or object mechanisms must be invoked to account for the averaging effect. The luminance averaging and the ambiguity of position–luminance “binding” suggest that the visual system may evade some of the costs of rapidly computing apparent brightness by adopting the assumption that the characteristics of an object are invariant over successive views.
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