The perception of an opening from expanding motion

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    The ability of humans to detect an opening's 3-D structure from expanding motion was tested. Computer simulations of dotted tunnels were used to generate optical flows typically encountered when one moves through an opening. Experiment 1 qualitatively tested the ability to detect the shape of a tunnel's vertical section. The observers could choose the correct shape for each of seven simulated shapes. The percentages of correct responses were much higher than those under static conditions. Experiment 2 tested whether or not one could quantitatively detect the vertical-horizontal proportion of the elliptic tunnels. The result shows quite high correlations (r = .93-.97) between perceived proportions and simulated ones. The slopes of the regression lines were around 1.0. Experiment 3 investigated the necessary stimulus duration for detecting an opening's shape. Relative size (width and height) was significantly detected under four-frame (72.7-msec) conditions by 3 out of 4 subjects. The other subject performed well under eight-frame conditions. These results indicate that the human visual system can instantly detect the 3-D structure of an opening surrounded by objects from expanding optical flows while one is in forward motion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-87
    Number of pages7
    JournalPerception and Psychophysics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1996

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Sensory Systems
    • Psychology(all)


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