Abstract

We investigate the conditions under which stimuli in apparent (sampled) motion are indistinguishable from those in smooth motion and compare this discrimination with the precision achieved by the visual system in interpolating apparent motion. In an initial experiment, observers were required to discriminate smooth from apparent motion, at variable step sizes, contrasts, velocities, and stimulus types (broadband line or bar stimuli and grating patches of different spatial frequency). Thresholds for discriminating smooth from sampled motion were ∼40 arc min under optimal conditions, corresponding to the diameter of foveal photoreceptors. The tolerated step size between stations increased with velocity, more so for low- than for high-spatial-frequency stimuli. Tolerated step size decreased with presentation duration and with stimulus contrast. A separate experiment examined precision of interpolation. Vernier offsets were produced through temporal delays along the trajectory of an apparent motion, and thresholds for the discrimination of direction of offset were measured as a function of speed of motion and of distance between stations of apparent motion. Perfect interpolation was achieved for distances between stations of ∼2 arc min. A model based on spatiotemporal filtering at an early stage of processing accounts well for the results of both types of experiments.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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