Information used in detecting upcoming collision

Perception. 2003;32(5):525-44. doi: 10.1068/p3433.


In four experiments we examined the nature of the information used in judging whether events would or would not give rise to a collision in the near future. Observers were tested in situations depicting approaches between two objects (lateral approaches) and approaches between an object and the point of observation (head-on approaches), with objects moving according to constant deceleration or sinusoidal deceleration patterns. Judgments were found to be based, to a large extent, on the (in)sufficiency of current deceleration to avoid upcoming collision, as specified optically by tau-dot (tau). However, the information specified by tau (tau), that is the current (first-order) time remaining until contact, was also found to play a significant role. We deduce that judgment of upcoming collision is based on the detection of tau and its evolution over time, suggesting that observers are sensitive to delta(tau) rather than to tau itself.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Automobile Driving
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Deceleration
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Psychophysics
  • Regression Analysis