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Anna-Gesina Hülemeier, Markus Lappe; Combining biological motion perception with optic flow analysis for self-motion in crowds. Journal of Vision 2020;20(9):7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.9.7.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Heading estimation from optic flow relies on the assumption that the visual world is rigid. This assumption is violated when one moves through a crowd of people, a common and socially important situation. The motion of people in the crowd contains cues to their translation in the form of the articulation of their limbs, known as biological motion. We investigated how translation and articulation of biological motion influence heading estimation from optic flow for self-motion in a crowd. Participants had to estimate their heading during simulated self-motion toward a group of walkers who collectively walked in a single direction. We found that the natural combination of translation and articulation produces surprisingly small heading errors. In contrast, experimental conditions that either present only translation or only articulation produced strong idiosyncratic biases. The individual biases explained well the variance in the natural combination. A second experiment showed that the benefit of articulation and the bias produced by articulation were specific to biological motion. An analysis of the differences in biases between conditions and participants showed that different perceptual mechanisms contribute to heading perception in crowds. We suggest that coherent group motion affects the reference frame of heading perception from optic flow.
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