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Ikuya Murakami; The flash-lag effect as a spatiotemporal correlation structure. Journal of Vision 2001;1(2):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/1.2.6.
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The flash-lag effect refers to the phenomenon in which a flash adjacent to a continuously moving object is perceived to lag behind it. Phenomenally, the flash appears to be spatially shifted relative to the moving stimulus, and the amount of lag has often been quantified as the flash’s nulling position, which is the physical spatial offset needed to establish perceptual alignment. The present study offers a better way to summarize flash-lag data. Instead of plotting data in terms of space, the psychometric function of the observer’s relative-position judgment is drawn on spatiotemporal plot. The psychological process underlying illusory lag is formulated as spatiotemporal bias and uncertainty and their estimate as a spatiotemporal convolution kernel that best explains the spatiotemporal psychometric function. Two empirical procedures of kernel estimation are described. One procedure is to fit the free parameters of the kernel to experimental data for continuous motion trajectory. The second is to give an analytical solution to the kernel using experimental data for random motion trajectory. The two procedures yield similar kernels, with negligible spatial bias and uncertainty and substantial temporal bias and uncertainty. In addition, it is demonstrated that an experimental manipulation of temporal predictability of the flash can change the temporal bias in the estimated kernel. The results of this novel analysis reveal that the flash-lag effect is viewed as a spatiotemporal correlation structure, which is largely characterized by the tendency to compare the position of the flash in the past with the position of the moving item in the present.
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