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Maarten A. Hogervorst, Andrew Glennerster, Richard A. Eagle; Pooling speed information in complex tasks: Estimation of average speed and detection of nonplanarity. Journal of Vision 2003;3(7):2. doi: 10.1167/3.7.2.
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To gain insight into how speeds are combined in structure-from-motion, we compared performance for estimating the mean speed and performance for detecting deviations from planarity. The stimuli showed a center dot surrounded by an annulus of dots. In one (plane) condition, the stimuli simulated a rotating plane. In a two alternative forced choice (2AFC) task, the subject had to choose in which of two stimuli the center dot moved in the plane. In another (cloud) condition, the same dot locations and speeds were used but now assigned to different dots. Such a stimulus resembles a translating and rotating cloud of dots. In this case, the subject had to choose the stimulus in which the center dot moved with the mean speed of the surrounding dots. Performance was measured as a function of deformation/slant. Although location and speeds were the same in both conditions, performance was much poorer in the cloud condition. Subsequent experiments and an ideal observer model point to a plausible explanation: in detecting deviations from planarity, the visual system can focus on the most reliable pieces of information (the slower dots, closest to the test dot). Although performance could benefit by taking more dots into account, performance barely improved with an increase in the number of dots. This may reflect a limited processing capacity of the visual system.
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