1999 volume 28(7) pages 877 – 892
doi:10.1068/p2941

Cite as:
He Z J, Ooi T L, 1999, "Perceptual organization of apparent motion in the Ternus display" Perception 28(7) 877 – 892

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Perceptual organization of apparent motion in the Ternus display

Zijiang J He, Teng Leng Ooi

Received 26 August 1997, in revised form 8 March 1999

Abstract. A typical Ternus display has three sequentially presented frames, in which frame 1 consists of three motion tokens, frame 2 (blank) defines the interstimulus interval, and frame 3 has similar motion tokens with their relative positions shifted to the right. Interestingly, what appears to be a seemingly simple arrangement of stimuli can induce one of two distinct apparent-motion percepts in the observer. The first is an element-motion perception where the left-end token is seen to jump over its two neighboring tokens (inner tokens) to the right end of the display. The second is a group-motion perception where the entire display of the three tokens is seen to move to the right. How does the visual system choose between these two apparent-motion perceptions? It is hypothesized that the choice of motion perception is determined in part by the perceptual organization of the motion tokens. Specifically, a group-motion perception is experienced when a strong grouping tendency exists among the motion tokens belonging to the same frame. Conversely, an element-motion perception is experienced when a strong grouping tendency exists between the inner motion tokens in frames 1 and 3 (ie the two tokens that overlap in space between frames). We tested this hypothesis by varying the perceptual organization of the motion tokens. Both spatial (form similarity, 3-D proximity, common surface/common region, and occlusion) and temporal (motion priming) factors of perceptual organization were tested. We found that the apparent-motion percept of the Ternus display can be predictably affected, in a manner consistent with the perceptual organization hypothesis.

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