Format of Original
Brill Academic Publishers
Seeing and Perceiving
Original Item ID
doi: 10.1163/187847510X503605; PubMed Central: PMCID 2935514
Previous studies of heading perception suggest that human observers employ spatiotemporal pooling to accommodate noise in optic flow stimuli. Here, we investigated how spatial and temporal integration mechanisms are used for judgments of heading through a psychophysical experiment involving three different types of noise. Furthermore, we developed two ideal observer models to study the components of the spatial information used by observers when performing the heading task. In the psychophysical experiment, we applied three types of direction noise to optic flow stimuli to differentiate the involvement of spatial and temporal integration mechanisms. The results indicate that temporal integration mechanisms play a role in heading perception, though their contribution is weaker than that of the spatial integration mechanisms. To elucidate how observers process spatial information to extract heading from a noisy optic flow field, we compared psychophysical performance in response to random-walk direction noise with that of two ideal observer models (IOMs). One model relied on 2D screen-projected flow information (2D-IOM), while the other used environmental, i.e., 3D, flow information (3D-IOM). The results suggest that human observers compensate for the loss of information during the 2D retinal projection of the visual scene for modest amounts of noise. This suggests the likelihood of a 3D reconstruction during heading perception, which breaks down under extreme levels of noise.