Perceiving surface slant from deformation of optic flow

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1999 Apr;25(2):426-44. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.25.2.426.


Perceived surface orientation and angular velocity were investigated for orthographic projections of 3-D rotating random-dot planes. It was found that (a) tilt was accurately perceived and (b) slant and angular velocity were systematically misperceived. It was hypothesized that these misperceptions are the product of a heuristic analysis based on the deformation, one of the differential invariants of the first-order optic flow. According to this heuristic, surface attitude and angular velocity are recovered by determining the magnitudes of these parameters that most likely produce the deformation of the velocity field, under the assumption that all slant and angular velocity magnitudes have the same a priori probability. The results of the present investigation support this hypothesis. Residual orientation anisotropies not accounted for by the proposed heuristic were also found.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology