The relationship between apparent motion and object files
Object files (OFs) play an important role in theories of mid-level vision. On some influential views, OFs operate and persist only via spatiotemporal continuity. One open question concerns what occurs when direct spatiotemporal continuity is absent: Do OFs move in accordance with any motion correspondence ultimately resolved? Specifically, do OFs accord with apparent motion (AM) correspondences, which arise despite a lack of continuous spatiotemporal stimulation? In Experiment 1, subjects were presented with an AM display consisting of two circles that, across two frames, were seen as moving between two noncontiguous locations. The two objects were primed with two symbols and were then moved in a single step; a third symbol appeared, and could either match the symbol from the closer or the further object. We found a robust object specific preview benefit (OSPB) for the shorter path, in other words, the path along which AM was perceived. In order to control for the possibility that priming occurs at any nearby object, in Experiment 2, the original two objects never disappeared, but two new objects appeared in the would-be AM locations. No AM was perceived, and no OSPB obtained. In the third experiment the OSPB effect persisted even when motion along the shorter path included an unlikely featural transformation (circles turning into squares). In Experiment 4, which was nearly identical to Experiment 2, no OSPB obtained despite unique featural matches between the initial and new objects, seemingly because no AM was perceived. In Experiment 5, we failed to find an effect of featural priming, even when distance between the objects was equated. Finally, we extended the OSPB effect to two additional kinds of AM—line motion (Experiment 6) and phi motion (Experiment 7), supplying strong evidence that AM correspondences and OF correspondences are controlled by the same basic rules.
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