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The chromatic input to global motion perception


For over 30 years there has been a controversy over whether color-defined motion can be perceived by the human visual system. Some results suggest that there is no chromatic motion mechanism at all, whereas others do find evidence for a purely chromatic motion mechanism. Here we examine the chromatic input to global motion processing for a range of color directions in the photopic luminance range. We measure contrast thresholds for global motion identification and simple detection using sparse random-dot kinematograms. The results show a discrepancy between the two chromatic axes: whereas it is possible for observers to perform the global motion task for stimuli modulated along the red–green axis, we could not assess the contrast threshold required for stimuli modulated along the yellowish-violet axis. The contrast required for detection for both axes, however, are well below the contrasts required for global motion identification. We conclude that there is a significant red–green input to global motion processing providing further evidence for the involvement of the parvocellular pathway. The lack of S-cone input to global motion processing suggests that the koniocellular pathway mediates the detection but not the processing of complex motion for our parameter range.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Alexa I. Ruppertsberg, Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZA, UK. E-mail:
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Visual Neuroscience
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