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Carlo Fantoni, Corrado Caudek, Fulvio Domini; Misperception of rigidity from actively generated optic flow. Journal of Vision 2014;14(3):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.3.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It is conventionally assumed that the goal of the visual system is to derive a perceptual representation that is a veridical reconstruction of the external world: a reconstruction that leads to optimal accuracy and precision of metric estimates, given sensory information. For example, 3-D structure is thought to be veridically recovered from optic flow signals in combination with egocentric motion information and assumptions of the stationarity and rigidity of the external world. This theory predicts veridical perceptual judgments under conditions that mimic natural viewing, while ascribing nonoptimality under laboratory conditions to unreliable or insufficient sensory information—for example, the lack of natural and measurable observer motion. In two experiments, we contrasted this optimal theory with a heuristic theory that predicts the derivation of perceived 3-D structure based on the velocity gradients of the retinal flow field without the use of egomotion signals or a rigidity prior. Observers viewed optic flow patterns generated by their own motions relative to two surfaces and later viewed the same patterns while stationary. When the surfaces were part of a rigid structure, static observers systematically perceived a nonrigid structure, consistent with the predictions of both an optimal and a heuristic model. Contrary to the optimal model, moving observers also perceived nonrigid structures in situations where retinal and extraretinal signals, combined with a rigidity assumption, should have yielded a veridical rigid estimate. The perceptual biases were, however, consistent with a heuristic model which is only based on an analysis of the optic flow.
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