Perceived shifts of flashed stimuli by visible and invisible object motion

Perception, 2003, volume 32, pages 545-559
Katsumi Watanabe, Takashi R. Sato, Shinsuke Shimojo


Perceived positions of flashed stimuli can be altered by motion signals in the visual field–position capture (Whitney and Cavanagh, 2000 Nature Neuroscience 3 954-959). We examined whether position capture of flashed stimuli depends on the spatial relationship between moving and flashed stimuli, and whether the phenomenal permanence of a moving object behind an occluding surface (tunnel effect; Michotte 1950 Acta Psychologica 7 293-322) can produce position capture. Observers saw two objects (circles) moving vertically in opposite directions, one in each visual hemifield. Two horizontal bars were simultaneously flashed at horizontally collinear positions with the fixation point at various timings. When the movement of the object was fully visible, the flashed bar appeared shifted in the motion direction of the circle. But this position-capture effect occurred only when the bar was presented ahead of or on the moving circle. Even when the motion trajectory was covered by an opaque surface and the bar was flashed after complete occlusion of the circle, the position-capture effect was still observed, though the positional asymmetry was less clear. These results show that movements of both visible and ‘hidden’ objects can modulate the perception of positions of flashed stimuli and suggest that a high-level representation of ‘objects in motion’ plays an important role in the position- capture effect.

Preprint of the paper

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