Visual Perception of Apparent Motion Abides by Minimization Principles of Geometry


Apparent motion is a robust perceptual phenomenon in which observers perceive a stimulus traversing the vacant visual space between two flashed stimuli. Although it is known that the “filling-in” of appa- rent motion favors the simplest and most economical path, the interpolative computations remain poorly understood. Here, we tested whether the perception of apparent motion is best characterized by Newtonian physics or kinematic geometry. Participants completed a target detection task while Pacmen- shaped objects were presented in succession to create the perception of apparent motion. We found that target detection was impaired when apparent motion, as predicted by kinematic geometry, not Newtonian physics, obstructed the target’s location. Our findings shed light on the computations employed by the visual system, suggesting specifically that the “filling-in” perception of apparent motion may be dominated by kinematic geometry, not Newtonian physics.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

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