Asymmetrical time-to-contact error with two moving objects persists across different vertical separations

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2018 Apr;185:146-154. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.02.003. Epub 2018 Mar 16.


When human observers estimate the time-to-contact (TTC) of more than one object there is an asymmetric pattern of error consistent with prioritizing the lead object at the expense of the trail object. Here, we examined TTC estimation in a prediction motion task where two objects moved along horizontal trajectories (5 or 7.5 °/s) that had different vertical separation, and thus placed specific demands on visuospatial attention. Results showed that participants were able to accurately judge arrival order, irrespective of vertical separation, in all but two conditions where the object trajectories crossed close to the arrival location. Constant error was significantly higher for the object that trailed, as opposed to led, by 250 or 500 ms. Asymmetry in constant error between the lead and trail object was not influenced by vertical separation, and was also evident across a range of arrival times. However, while the lag between the two consecutive TTC estimations was scaled to the actual difference in object arrival times, lag did increase with vertical separation. Taken together, our results confirm that TTC estimation of two moving objects in the prediction motion task suffers from an asymmetrical interference, which is likely related to factors that influence attentional allocation.

Keywords: Asymmetrical estimation error; Attentional allocation; Multiple objects; Time-to-contact.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult