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Physics embedded in visual perception of three-dimensional shape from motion

Abstract

Visual perception, and by implication underlying neural events, can become unstable when optical information specifying objects is ambiguous. Here we report that one striking form of instability—perceived three-dimensional structure-from-motion (SFM)—can be stabilized when an otherwise ambiguous object appears within a context implying frictional interactions with another rotating object; violations of physical conditions specifying friction disrupt stabilization. Evidently, information about frictional interaction is embedded within neural mechanisms specifying SFM.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Schall and H. Hock for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and D. Bloom and K. Sobel for helpful discussions. This work was supported by U.S. National Institutes of Health grants EY07135 and EY07760.

Author information

Correspondence to Lee A Gilroy.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Methods (PDF 11 kb)

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Further reading

Figure 1: Effect of frictional interactions on perception of 3D-SFM.
Figure 2: Results of experiments 2–4.