Time course of motion adaptation: motion-onset visual evoked potentials and subjective estimates

Vision Res. 1999 Feb;39(3):437-44. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00186-2.


The aim of this study was to quantitatively describe the dynamics of adaptation to visual motion with electrophysiological and psychophysical methods in man. We recorded visual evoked potentials (VEPs) to motion onset of random dot patterns from occipital and occipito-temporal electrodes during a succession of adaptation-recovery sequences. In these sequences the test stimulus was used to set the adaptation level: seven trials with 70% motion duty cycle (adaptation) followed by seven trials of 7% motion duty cycle (recovery). In a similar paradigm we determined the length of the perceptual motion after-effect to obtain a psychophysical measure of the time course of motion adaptation. Our results show a highly significant reduction of the N2 amplitude in the maximally compared to the minimally adapted condition (P < 0.001). Electrophysiological and psychophysical results both indicate that adaptation to visual motion is faster than recovery: The data were fit with an exponential model yielding adaptation and recovery time constants, respectively, of 2.5 and 10.2 s for the N2 amplitude (occipito temporal derivation) and of 7.7 and 16.7 s for the perceptual motion after-effect. Implications for the design of motion stimuli are discussed, e.g. a motion stimulus moving 10% of the time may lead to about 30% motion adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Reaction Time