1997 volume 26(8) pages 1047 – 1058

Cite as:
Hughes H C, Aronchick D M, Nelson M D, 1997, "Spatial scale interactions and visual-tracking performance" Perception 26(8) 1047 – 1058

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Spatial scale interactions and visual-tracking performance

Howard C Hughes, David M Aronchick, Michael D Nelson

Received 18 September 1996; accepted 21 March 1997

Abstract. It has previously been observed that low spatial frequencies (≤1.0 cycles deg-1) tend to dominate high spatial frequencies (>=5.0 cycles deg-1) in several types of visual-information-processing tasks. This earlier work employed reaction times as the primary performance measure and the present experiments address the possibility of low-frequency dominance by evaluating visually guided performance of a completely different response system: the control of slow-pursuit eye movements. Slow-pursuit gains (eye velocity/stimulus velocity) were obtained while observers attempted to track the motion of a sine-wave grating. The drifting gratings were presented on three types of background: a uniform background, a background consisting of a stationary grating, or a flickering background. Low-frequency dominance was evident over a wide range of velocities, in that a stationary high-frequency component produced little disruption in the pursuit ofa drifting low spatial frequency, but a stationary low frequency interfered substantially with the tracking of a moving high spatial frequency. Pursuit was unaffected by temporal modulation of the background, suggesting that these effects are due to the spatial characteristics of the stationary grating. Similar asymmetries were observed with respect to the stability of fixation: active fixation was less stable in the presence of a drifting low frequency than in the presence of a drifting high frequency.

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