The detection of motion in the peripheral visual field

Vision Res. 1984;24(1):25-32. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(84)90140-8.


To assess the sensitivity of the periphery to motion, we measured differential motion detection and velocity discrimination as a function of eccentricity in the lower visual field. The differential motion threshold, a measure of the ability to detect relative motion (shear) between adjacent visual stimuli, is smaller than the minimum angle of resolution at all retinal loci tested. The target size required to produce the lowest differential motion threshold is surprisingly large, ranging from 1 deg in the fovea to about 20 deg at 40 degrees eccentricity. When the peripheral thresholds for differential motion and for resolution are normalized against the fovea and plotted on linear axes, the eccentricity functions are linear. Velocity discrimination (delta V/V) is as precise in the periphery as it is in the fovea, amounting to about 6% for the optimum velocity range. In the fovea, the minimum Weber fraction is reached at velocities of 5 deg/sec or faster. In the periphery this minimum is found for a faster range of velocities (greater than 30 deg/sec at 40 degrees eccentricity). If target velocity is expressed in the resolution units/second appropriate to each tested eccentricity, the velocity discrimination functions coincide. Thus, while the spatial determinants of velocity discrimination follow the change in resolution found with eccentricity, peripheral temporal sensitivity must be nearly equal to foveal temporal sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Fovea Centralis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*