The pattern of local image velocities on the retina encodes important environmental information. Although humans are generally able to extract this information, they can easily be deceived into seeing incorrect velocities. We show that these 'illusions' arise naturally in a system that attempts to estimate local image velocity. We formulated a model of visual motion perception using standard estimation theory, under the assumptions that (i) there is noise in the initial measurements and (ii) slower motions are more likely to occur than faster ones. We found that specific instantiation of such a velocity estimator can account for a wide variety of psychophysical phenomena.
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