Kinetic depth effect and optic flow-I. 3D shape from Fourier motion

Barbara A. Dosher, Michael S. Landy, George Sperling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fifty-three different 3D shapes were defined by sequences of 2D views (frames) of dots on a rotating 3D surface. 1. (1) Subjects' accuracy of shape identifications dropped from over 90% to less than 10% when either the polarity of the stimulus dots was alternated from light-on-gray to dark-on-gray on successive frames or when neutral gray interframe intervals were interposed. Both manipulations interfere with motion extraction by spatio-temporal (Fourier) and gradient first-order detectors. Second-order (non-Fourier) detectors that use full-wave rectification are unaffected by alternating-polarity but disrupted by interposed gray frames. 2. (2) To equate the accuracy of two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) planar direction-of-motion discrimination in standard and polarity-alternated stimuli, standard contrast was reduced. 3D shape discrimination survived contrast reduction in standard stimuli whereas it failed completely with polarity-alternation even at full contrast. 3. (3) When individual dots were permitted to remain in the image sequence for only two frames, performance showed little loss compared to standard displays where individual dots had an expected lifetime of 20 frames, showing that 3D shape identification does not require continuity of stimulus tokens. 4. (4) Performance in all discrimination tasks is predicted (up to a monotone transformation) by considering the quality of first-order information (as given by a simple computation on Fourier power) and the number of locations at which motion information is required. Perceptual first-order analysis of optic flow is the primary substrate for structure-from-motion computations in random dot displays because only it offers sufficient quality of perceptual motion at a sufficient number of locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1789-1813
Number of pages25
JournalVision research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1989


  • Fourier motion
  • Kinetic depth effect
  • Shape identification
  • Structure from motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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