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Julian M. Fernandez, Bart Farell; Shape constancy and depth-order violations in structure from motion: A look at non-frontoparallel axes of rotation. Journal of Vision 2007;7(7):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.7.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans can recover the structure of a 3D object from motion cues alone. Recovery of structure from motion (SFM) from the projected 2D motion field of a rotating object has been studied almost exclusively in one particular condition, that in which the axis of rotation lies in the frontoparallel plane. Here, we assess the ability of humans to recover SFM in the general case, where the axis of rotation may be slanted out of the frontoparallel plane. Using elliptical cylinders whose cross section was constant along the axis of rotation, we find that, across a range of parameters, subjects accurately matched the simulated shape of the cylinder regardless of how much the axis of rotation is inclined away from the frontoparallel plane. Yet, we also find that subjects do not perceive the inclination of the axis of rotation veridically. This combination of results violates a relationship between perceived angle of inclination and perceived shape that must hold if SFM is to be recovered from the instantaneous velocity field. The contradiction can be resolved if the angular speed of rotation is not consistently estimated from the instantaneous velocity field. This, in turn, predicts that variation in object size along the axis of rotation can cause depth-order violations along the line of sight. This prediction was verified using rotating circular cones as stimuli. Thus, as the axis of rotation changes its inclination, shape constancy is maintained through a trade-off. Humans perceive the structure of the object relative to a changing axis of rotation as unchanging by introducing an inconsistency between the perceived speed of rotation and the first-order optic flow. The observed depth-order violations are the cost of the trade-off.
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