Perceptual biases are inconsistent with Bayesian encoding of speed in the human visual system

Omar Hassan, Steve Hammett

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The notion that Bayesian processes are fundamental to brain function and sensory processing has recently received much support, and a number of Bayesian accounts of how the brain encodes the speed of moving objects have been proposed that challenge earlier mechanistic models. We measured the perceived speed of low contrast patterns at both low (2.5 cd mÀ2) and high (25 cd mÀ2) luminance in order to assess these competing models of how the human visual system encodes speed. At both luminance levels low contrast stimuli are perceptually biased such that they appear slower at slow (, 8 Hz) speeds but faster at higher (16 Hz) speeds. However, we find that the reversal of the perceptual bias from under- to overestimation occurred at slower speeds at low luminance. We also found that the bias was greater at slow speeds at high luminance but greater at fast speeds at low luminance. Moreover, discrimination thresholds were found to be similar at high and low luminance. These findings can be predicted by models in which speed is encoded by the relative activity within two broadly tuned temporal channels but are inconsistent with Bayesian models of speed encoding. We conclude that Bayesian processes cannot adequately account for speed encoding in the human visual system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Early online date6 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2015

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