Abstract

Consider two wire gratings, superimposed and moving across each other. Under certain conditions the two gratings will cohere into a single, compound pattern, which will appear to be moving in another direction. Such coherent motion patterns have been studied for sinusoidal component gratings, and give rise to percepts of rigid, planar motions. In this paper we show how to construct coherent motion displays that give rise to nonuniform, nonrigid, and nonplanar percepts. Most significantly, they also can define percepts with corners. Since these patterns are more consistent with the structure of natural scenes than rigid sinusoidal gratings, they stand as interesting stimuli for both computational and physiological studies. To illustrate, our display with sharp corners (tangent discontinuities or singularities) separating regions of coherent motion suggests that smoothing does not cross tangent discontinuities, a point that argues against existing (regularization) algorithms for computing motion. This leads us to consider how singularities can be confronted directly within optical flow computations, and we conclude with two hypotheses: (1) that singularities are represented within the motion system as multiple directions at the same retinotopic location; and (2) for component gratings to cohere, they must be at the same depth from the viewer. Both hypotheses have implications for the neural computation of coherent motion.

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