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J Vis. 2009 May 29;9(5):30.1-15. doi: 10.1167/9.5.30.

Motion mechanisms with different spatiotemporal characteristics identified by an MAE technique with superimposed gratings.

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Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University, Japan.


We investigated spatiotemporal characteristics of motion mechanisms using a new type of motion aftereffect (MAE) we found. Our stimulus comprised two superimposed sinusoidal gratings with different spatial frequencies. After exposure to the moving stimulus, observers perceived the MAE in the static test in the direction opposite to that of the high spatial frequency grating even when low spatial frequency motion was perceived during adaptation. In contrast, in the flicker test, the MAE was perceived in the direction opposite to that of the low spatial frequency grating. These MAEs indicate that two different motion systems contribute to motion perception and can be isolated by using different test stimuli. Using a psychophysical technique based on the MAE, we investigated the differences between the two motion mechanisms. The results showed that the static MAE is the aftereffect of the motion system with a high spatial and low temporal frequency tuning (slow motion detector) and the flicker MAE is the aftereffect of the motion system with a low spatial and high temporal frequency tuning (fast motion detector). We also revealed that the two motion detectors differ in orientation tuning, temporal frequency tuning, and sensitivity to relative motion.

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