Abstract

Events consist of objects in motion. When objects move, their opaque surfaces reflect light and produce both static image structure and dynamic optic flow. The static and dynamic optical information co-specify events. Patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and amblyopia cannot identify static objects because of weakened image structure. However, optic flow is detectable despite blurry vision because visual motion measurement uses low spatial frequencies. When motion ceases, image structure persists and might preserve properties specified by optic flow. We tested whether optic flow and image structure interact to allow event perception with poor static vision. AMD (Experiment 1), amblyopic (Experiments 2 and 3), and normally sighted observers identified common events from either blurry (Experiments 1 and 2) or clear images (Experiment 3), when either single image frames were presented, a sequence of frames was presented with motion masks, or a sequence of frames was presented with detectable motion. Results showed that with static images, but no motion, events were not perceived well by participants other than controls in Experiment 3. However, with detectable motion, events were perceived. Immediately following this and again after five days, participants were able to identify events from the original static images. So, when image structure information is weak, optic flow compensates for it and enables event perception. Furthermore, weakened static image structure information nevertheless preserves information that was once available in optic flow. The combination is powerful and allows events to be perceived accurately and stably despite blurry vision.

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