We examined the effect of changing the composition of the carrier on the perception of motion in a drifting contrast envelope. Human observers were required to discriminate the direction of motion of contrast modulations of an underlying carrier as a function of temporal frequency and scaled (carrier) contrast. The carriers were modulations of both color and luminance, defined within a cardinal color space. Random-noise carriers had either binary luminance profiles or flat (gray-scale–white) or (pink) spectral power functions. Independent variables investigated were the envelope spatial frequency and temporal-drift frequency and the fundamental spatial frequency, color, and temporal-update frequency of the carrier. The results show that observers were able to discriminate correctly the direction of envelope motion for binary-noise carriers at both high (16 Hz) and low (2 Hz) temporal-drift frequencies. Changing the carrier format from binary noise to a flat (gray-scale) or amplitude profile reduced discrimination performance slightly but only in the high-temporal-frequency condition. Manipulation of the fundamental frequency of the carrier elicited no change in performance at the low temporal frequencies but produced ambiguous or reversed motion at the higher temporal frequencies as soon as the fundamental frequency was higher than the envelope modulation frequency. We found that envelope motion detection was sensitive to the structure of the carrier.
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