The Task-Dependent Use of Binocular Disparity and Motion Parallax Information

Vision Res. 2000;40(27):3725-34. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(00)00214-5.


Binocular disparity and motion parallax are powerful cues to the relative depth between objects. However to recover absolute depth, either additional scaling parameters are required to calibrate the information provided by each cue, or it can be recovered through the combination of information from both cues (Richards, W. (1985). Structure from stereo and motion. Journal of the Optical Society of America, 2, 343-349). However, not all tasks necessarily require a full specification of the absolute depth structure of a scene and so psychophysical performance may vary depending on the amount of information available, and the degree to which absolute depth structure is required. The experiments reported here used three different tasks that varied in the type of geometric information required in order for them to be completed successfully. These included a depth nulling task, a depth-matching task, and an absolute depth judgement (shape) task. Real world stimuli were viewed (i) monocularly with head movements, (ii) binocularly and static, or (iii) binocularly with head movements. No effect of viewing condition was found whereas there was a large effect of task. Performance was accurate on the matching and nulling tasks and much less accurate on the shape task. The fact that the same perceptual distortions were not evident in all tasks suggests that the visual system can switch strategy according to the demands of the particular task. No evidence was found to suggest that the visual system could exploit the simultaneous presence of disparity and motion parallax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Perceptual Distortion / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Vision Disparity / physiology*
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology