Equivalence of physical and perceived speed in binocular rivalry

Baker, Daniel H. and Graf, Erich W. (2008). Equivalence of physical and perceived speed in binocular rivalry. Journal of Vision, 8 (4), 26.1-12.


The relative dominance of gratings engaged in binocular rivalry can be influenced by their surroundings. One striking example occurs when surrounding motion is congruent with one but not the other grating (C. L. Paffen, S. F. te Pas, R. Kanai, M. J. van der Smagt, & F. A. Verstraten, 2004). However, such center-surround stimulus configurations can also modulate perceived speed, via a directionally tuned process (H. P. Norman, J. F. Norman, J. T. Todd, & D. T. Lindsey, 1996). We recorded rivalry for Gabor patches embedded in a drifting noise texture. Gratings whose directions opposed the background motion tended to dominate more, and vice versa, consistent with previous findings. Observers then matched the speed of a drifting noise-embedded Gabor to that of a Gabor surrounded by mean luminance. Surround motion produced substantial changes in perceived speed, by at least a factor of two for all observers. We then asked whether perceived speed could account for the contextual effects on dominance. We measured the effects of speed on rivalry dominance by changing the physical speeds of rivaling gratings, as determined by the matching data. We found the same pattern of dominance as for the context experiment, indicating that perceived and true speed influence rivalry in the same manner. We propose a Bayesian interpretation of the perceived speed illusion.


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