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Title: An investigation into perceived motion paths by means of the Slalom Illusion
Author: Gheorghes, Tamara
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 1696
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2018
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When a dot moves horizontally across a set of tilted lines of alternating orientations, the dot appears to be moving up and down along its trajectory. This perceptual phenomenon, known as the 'slalom illusion' (Cesaro & Agostini, 1998), reveals a mismatch between the veridical motion signals and the subjective percept of the motion trajectory which has not been comprehensively explained. In the context of the current thesis, the slalom illusion was used as a paradigm to investigate the integration of the brief and localised motion signals that are initially encoded by the visual cortex into the overall illusory percept that is subjectively perceived by human observers. It was observed that the slalom illusion also occurs when part of the dot trajectory is occluded by another object, with an increased magnitude, and that it occurs both when the eyes follow the dot and when the gaze remains fixated. The latter finding was replicated in foveal and in peripheral vision. An inverse stimulus display, whereby a dot trajectory that in reality was sinusoidal in shape moved across a set of vertical lines, did not result in the expected inverse effect of an underestimated trajectory amplitude. A theoretical view on the slalom illusion was developed, positing that the illusion is not rooted in the earliest phase of visual processing, and that the human visual system only interprets trajectories after the fact - that is, after the input motion signals have been registered for a period of time - rather than on-line as the motion signals arrive. Moreover, it was proposed that straight trajectories in particular are sensitive to perceptual biases and illusions, due to the propensity of neurons in thevisual cortex to encode the transients of motion direction over a constant motion direction. In conclusion, the slalom illusion reveals that human visual perception of the trajectory of a moving object is an active inferential process, in which it is more important to form a coherent interpretation consistent with prior knowledge of realistic object motion, than it is to perceive the input motion signals accurately. Through systematic manipulation of the elements of the slalom display, the properties of this process can be investigated.
Supervisor: Reidy, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available