Percepts of Rigid Motion Within and Across Apertures

Maggie Shiffrar, M. Pavel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Humans consistently err in their percepts of rotational motion viewed through an aperture. Such errors provide insight into the constraints observers use to interpret retinal images. In the 1st of 2 experiments, Ss consistently perceived the fixed center of rotation for an unmarked line viewed through an aperture as located on the line, regardless of its actual location. Accuracy greatly improved with visible line endings. This finding was extended to explain why a square appears nonrigid when it rotates behind a partial occluder. This illusion may result from observers misperceiving the center of rotation of the unmarked square sides. In this situation, Ss seemed unable to apply an object rigidity constraint across apertures. These findings support a conceptualization of the visual system in which consistent local information must be clearly present before prior knowledge can be used to interpret retinal stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-761
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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