Abstract

Use of motion to break camouflage extends back to the Cambrian [In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang of Evolution (New York Basic Books, 2003)]. We investigated the ability to break camouflage and continue to see camouflaged targets after motion stops. This is crucial for the survival of hunting predators. With camouflage, visual targets and distracters cannot be distinguished using only static image structure (i.e., appearance). Motion generates another source of optical information, optic flow, which breaks camouflage and specifies target locations. Optic flow calibrates image structure with respect to spatial relations among targets and distracters, and calibrated image structure makes previously camouflaged targets perceptible in a temporally stable fashion after motion stops. We investigated this proposal using laboratory experiments and compared how many camouflaged targets were identified either with optic flow information alone or with combined optic flow and image structure information. Our results show that the combination of motion-generated optic flow and target-projected image structure information yielded efficient and stable perception of camouflaged targets.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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