Perceived direction of plaid motion is not predicted by component speeds

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It has been shown that the perceived direction of a plaid with components of unequal contrast is biased towards the direction of the higher-contrast component [Stone, L. S., Watson, A. B., & Mulligan, J. B. (1990). Effect of contrast on the perceived direction of a moving plaid. Vision Research 30, 1049–1067]. It was proposed that this effect is due to the influence of contrast on the perceived speed of the plaid components. This led to the conclusion that perceived plaid direction is computed by the intersection of constraints (IOC) of the perceived speed of the components rather than their physical speeds. We tested this proposal at a wider range of component speeds (2–16 deg/s) than used previously, across which the effect of contrast on perceived speed is seen to reverse. We find that across this range, perceived plaid direction cannot be predicted either by a model which takes the IOC of physical or perceived component speed. Our results are consistent with an explanation of 2D motion perception proposed by [Bowns, L. (1996). Evidence for a feature tracking explanation of why Type II plaids move in the vector sum direction at short durations. Vision Research, 36, 3685–3694.] in which the motion of the zero-crossing edges of the features in the stimulus contribute to the perceived direction of motion.

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