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Paul A. Warren, Simon K. Rushton, Andrew J. Foulkes; Does optic flow parsing depend on prior estimation of heading?. Journal of Vision 2012;12(11):8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.11.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We have recently suggested that neural flow parsing mechanisms act to subtract global optic flow consistent with observer movement to aid in detecting and assessing scene-relative object movement.Here, we examine whether flow parsing can occur independently from heading estimation. To address this question we used stimuli comprising two superimposed optic flow fields comprising limited lifetime dots (one planar and one radial). This stimulus gives rise to the so-called optic flow illusion (OFI) in which perceived heading is biased in the direction of the planar flow field. Observers were asked to report the perceived direction of motion of a probe object placed in the OFI stimulus. If flow parsing depends upon a prior estimate of heading then the perceived trajectory should reflect global subtraction of a field consistent with the heading experienced under the OFI. In Experiment 1 we tested this prediction directly, finding instead that the perceived trajectory was biased markedly in the direction opposite to that predicted under the OFI. In Experiment 2 we demonstrate that the results of Experiment 1 are consistent with a positively weighted vector sum of the effects seen when viewing the probe together with individual radial and planar flow fields. These results suggest that flow parsing is not necessarily dependent on prior estimation of heading direction. We discuss the implications of this finding for our understanding of the mechanisms of flow parsing.
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