October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Motion Silencing is Caused by the Interpretation of Structure from Motion
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Qihan Wu
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Juan Suárez Burgos
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Jonathan Flombaum
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  NSF PAC #153468
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 1400. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1400
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Qihan Wu, Juan Suárez Burgos, Jonathan Flombaum; Motion Silencing is Caused by the Interpretation of Structure from Motion. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1400. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1400.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Motion silencing (Suchow & Alvarez, 2005) is a striking illusion. Participants easily perceive color changes in an array of 100 dots. But if the array of dots rotates around a circle, the perception of change becomes difficult, ‘silenced’. The predominant suggestion has been that it reveals a failure of change detection, perhaps owing to a limitation of small receptive fields. Some illusions indeed reflect properties of visual ‘wetware’. But often illusions reveal an interpretive mistake in the visual system, a wrong decision about what is there given the input. We suggest that the interpretation of structure from motion produces silencing. Note that motion around a circle —the standard stimulus— can be interpreted as a case of structure: a rotating surface. To test our theory, we sought a stimulus in which we could untangle motion and the implication of structure. We, therefore, turned to the classic structure-from-motion rotating cylinder. By overlaying two groups of oppositely translating dots, participants perceive a 3D rotating cylinder. We produced such a stimulus in which the dots changed color. When the dots were static, changes were easily noticed. But when the dots moved —producing the cylinder percept— silencing was observed (as measured by asking participants to report which stimulus had color changes at a faster rate). Critically, when the two sets of dots translated in the same direction, removing the cylinder percept, no silencing was reported. (i.e. Participants chose this stimulus and the static stimulus as changing faster, equally often). If silencing reflects a limitation of change detection, the limitation should be equally present when the dots translate in the same or opposite directions. But it was only present when the total motion implied underlying structure, revealing that silencing is an interpretation not a limitation of perception.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.