Disambiguating ambiguous motion perception: what are the cues?

  • Piedimonte A
  • Woods A
  • Chatterjee A
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Motion perception is a fundamental feature of the human visual system. As part of our daily life we often have to determine the direction of motion, even in ambiguous (AMB) situations. These situations force us to rely on exogenous cues, such as other environmental motion, and endogenous cues, such as our own actions, or previously learned experiences. In three experiments, we asked participants to report the direction of an AMB motion display, while manipulating exogenous and endogenous sources of information. Specifically, in all three experiments the exogenous information was represented by another motion cue while the endogenous cue was represented, respectively, by movement execution, movement planning, or a learned association about the motion display. Participants were consistently biased by less AMB motion cues in the environment when reporting the AMB target direction. In the absence of less AMB exogenous motion information, participants were biased by their motor movements and even the planning of such movements. However, when participants learned a specific association about the target motion, this acquired endogenous knowledge countered exogenous motion cues in biasing participants' perception. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that we disambiguate AMB motion using different sources of exogenous and endogenous cues, and that learned associations may be particularly salient in countering the effects of environmental cues.




Piedimonte, A., Woods, A. J., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Disambiguating ambiguous motion perception: what are the cues? Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00902

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