Polarization contrast and motion detection

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2006 Sep;192(9):905-14. doi: 10.1007/s00359-006-0127-4. Epub 2006 Jul 8.


Form and motion perception rely upon the visual system's capacity to segment the visual scene based upon local differences in luminance or wavelength. It is not clear if polarization contrast is a sufficient basis for motion detection. Here we show that crayfish optomotor responses elicited by the motion of images derived from spatiotemporal variations in e-vector angles are comparable to contrast-elicited responses. Response magnitude increases with the difference in e-vector angles in adjacent segments of the scene and with the degree of polarization but the response is relatively insensitive to the absolute values of e-vector angles that compose the stimulus. The results indicate that polarization contrast can support visual motion detection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / physiology*
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Color Perception / radiation effects
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / radiation effects
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Form Perception / radiation effects
  • Light*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / radiation effects
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology
  • Refraction, Ocular / radiation effects
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Visual Pathways / physiology