Attentional modulation in perception of visual motion events

Katsumi Watanabe*, Shinsuke Shimojo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Identical visual targets moving across each other with equal and constant speed can be perceived either to bounce off or to stream through each other. This bistable motion perception has been studied mostly in the context of motion integration. Since the perception of most ambiguous motion is affected by attention, there is the possibility of attentional modulation occurring in this case as well. We investigated whether distraction of attention from the moving targets would alter the relative frequency of each percept. During the observation of the streaming/ bouncing motion event in the peripheral visual field, visual attention was disrupted by an abrupt presentation of a visual distractor at various timings and locations (experiment 1; exogenous distraction of attention) or by the demand of an additional discrimination task (experiments 2 and 3; endogenous distraction of attention). Both types of distractions of attention increased the frequency of the bouncing percept and decreased that of the streaming percept. These results suggest that attention may facilitate the perception of object motion as continuing in the same direction as in the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1054
Number of pages14
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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