Human Factors

Where do biases in visual perception of self-motion come from?

Supervisor: dr. Matthijs Noordzij

Numerous studies show that humans can estimate their heading (i.e., the direction of horizontal linear self-motion) on the basis of visual optic flow information. This estimation is not perfect: experimental data indicate that visual heading estimation is subject to biases, meaning that people over- or underestimate how different the motion is from straight-ahead. The results of the studies tend to agree that patterns in the bias are of a periodical nature, being the most pronounced for directions in between forward/backward and left/right. However, there are considerable differences between studies and participants in the direction and size of these biases. These differences are surprising considering that a particular pattern of bias and dispersion can be predicted from knowledge on cortical visual area MSTd.

In this project we want to assess whether there is a relation between properties of the visual stimulus and patterns of bias in heading estimation. We will perform an experiment in the Max Planck PanoLab (pictured), where we assess participants’ ability to judge the direction of motion in wide range of visual conditions.

If you are intrigued by this question and would like to do research on this topic at the Max Planck Institute, contact:

Dr. Ksander de Winkel

Research Scientist

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Dept. Human Perception, Cognition and Action.

Phone: +49 7071 601 -641, Fax: -616