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Vision Res. 2004;44(13):1499-510.

Spatial frequency selective masking of first-order and second-order motion in the absence of off-frequency 'looking'.

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School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, University Park NG7 2RD, UK.


Converging evidence suggests that, at least initially, first-order (luminance defined) and second-order (e.g. contrast defined) motion are processed independently in human vision. However, adaptation studies suggest that second-order motion, like first-order motion, may be encoded by spatial frequency selective mechanisms each operating over a limited range of scales. Nonetheless, the precise properties of these mechanisms are indeterminate since the spatial frequency selectivity of adaptation aftereffects may not necessarily represent the frequency tuning of the underlying units [Vision Research 37 (1997) 2685]. To address this issue we used visual masking to investigate the spatial-frequency tuning of the mechanisms that encode motion. A dual-masking paradigm was employed to derive estimates of the spatial tuning of motion sensors, in the absence of off-frequency 'looking'. Modulation-depth thresholds for identifying the direction of a sinusoidal test pattern were measured over a 4-octave range (0.125-2 c/deg) in both the absence and presence of two counterphasing masks, simultaneously positioned above and below the test frequency. For second-order motion, the resulting masking functions were spatially bandpass in character and remained relatively invariant with changes in test spatial frequency, masking pattern modulation depth and the temporal properties of the noise carrier. As expected, bandpass spatial frequency tuning was also found for first-order motion. This provides compelling evidence that the mechanisms responsible for encoding each variety of motion exhibit spatial frequency selectivity. Thus, although first-order and second-order motion may be encoded independently, they must utilise similar computational principles.

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