Human heading judgments in the presence of moving objects

Percept Psychophys. 1996 Aug;58(6):836-56. doi: 10.3758/bf03205487.


When moving toward a stationary scene, people judge their heading quite well from visual information alone. Much experimental and modeling work has been presented to analyze how people judge their heading for stationary scenes. However, in everyday life, we often move through scenes that contain moving objects. Most models have difficulty computing heading when moving objects are in the scene, and few studies have examined how well humans perform in the presence of moving objects. In this study, we tested how well people judge their heading in the presence of moving objects. We found that people perform remarkably well under a variety of conditions. The only condition that affects an observer's ability to judge heading accurately consists of a large moving object crossing the observer's path. In this case, the presence of the object causes a small bias in the heading judgments. For objects moving horizontally with respect to the observer, this bias is in the object's direction of motion. These results present a challenge for computational models.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Depth Perception
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Motion Perception*
  • Orientation*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychophysics
  • Space Perception