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Spatio-temporal vernier acuity

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

The study of space-time vernier (STV) provides information on the spatio-temporal structure of the visual system in the same way that the classical spatio-spatial vernier (SSV) provides information on its spatial structure. The transposition of a SSV task into a STV one yields the following experimental format: an object (in the present case a Gaussian blob) drifts with a constant velocity, V, disappears at x0, to and reappears after a variable duration ▽t at a position x1 ± δx with x1 the correct position (given a constant V) and δx the minimum (positive and negative) spatial offset discriminable from x0, i.e. the STV threshold. Observer's task is to specify whether the reappearance position is ahead of, or behind x1. The STV functions of Δt measured for 1, 5 and 10 deg/s reference velocities are linear with non-zero spatial and temporal intercepts at the origin. We refer to these x and t intercepts as dynamic dmin and tmin. Dynamic dmin is the smallest instantaneous displacement (infinite velocity) discriminable from a continuous drift, V. Dynamic tmin is the shortest 'motion stop' discriminable from the same continuous drift, V. To our knowledge these quantities have not yet been assessed. Estimated dynamic dmin increases with V, whereas tmin is more or less V independent suggesting that the motion sensors presumably involved in the STV task have peak spatial frequencies inversely proportional with V and a temporal frequency characteristic independent of V (at least within the studied range). The observed STV linearity with the spatio-temporal separation implies that the STV task is equivalent to a velocity discrimination. Two additional observations yield support to this conclusion. (i) The slopes of these functions yield velocities very similar to those discriminable from the reference V in a standard V-discrimination experiment. (ii) The predicted STV performances based on a decomposition of the task into two velocity discrimination tasks run as independent experiments are reasonably accurate.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, René Descartes University and C.N.R.S., 28 rue Serpente, 75006 Paris, France


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