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Drift-balanced random stimuli: a general basis for studying non-Fourier motion perception.

  • Author(s): Chubb, C;
  • Sperling, G
  • et al.

To some degree, all current models of visual motion-perception mechanisms depend on the power of the visual signal in various spatiotemporal-frequency bands. Here we show how to construct counterexamples: visual stimuli that are consistently perceived as obviously moving in a fixed direction yet for which Fourier-domain power analysis yields no systematic motion components in any given direction. We provide a general theoretical framework for investigating non-Fourier motion-perception mechanisms; central are the concepts of drift-balanced and microbalanced random stimuli. A random stimulus S is drift balanced if its expected power in the frequency domain is symmetric with respect to temporal frequency, that is, if the expected power in S of every drifting sinusoidal component is equal to the expected power of the sinusoid of the same spatial frequency, drifting at the same rate in the opposite direction. Additionally, S is microbalanced if the result WS of windowing S by any space-time-separable function W is drift balanced. We prove that (i) any space-time-separable random (or nonrandom) stimulus is microbalanced; (ii) any linear combination of pairwise independent microbalanced (respectively, drift-balanced) random stimuli is microbalanced and drift balanced if the expectation of each component is uniformly zero; (iii) the convolution of independent microbalanced and drift-balanced random stimuli is microbalanced and drift balanced; (iv) the product of independent microbalanced random stimuli is microbalanced; and (v) the expected response of any Reichardt detector to any microbalanced random stimulus is zero at every instant in time. Examples are provided of classes of microbalanced random stimuli that display consistent and compelling motion in one direction. All the results and examples from the domain of motion perception are transposable to the space-domain problem of detecting orientation in a texture pattern.

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