Need for (expected) speed: Exploring the indirect influence of trial type consistency on representational momentum.
Merz S., Spence C., Frings C.
The biases affecting people's perception of dynamic stimuli are typically robust and strong for specific stimulus configurations. For example, representational momentum describes a systematic perceptual bias in the direction of motion for the final location of a moving stimulus. Under clearly defined stimulus configurations (e.g., specific stimulus identity, size, speed), for example, the frequently used "implied motion" trial sequence, for which a target is subsequently presented in a consistent direction and with a consistent speed, a displacement in motion direction is evidenced. The present study explores the potential influence of expectations regarding directional as well as speed consistencies on representational momentum, elicited by including other, inconsistently moving trial types within the same experimental block. A systematic representational momentum effect was observed when only consistent motion trials were presented. In contrast, when inconsistent target motion trials were mixed within the same block of experimental trials, the representational momentum effect decreased, or was even eliminated (Experiments 1 & 2). Detailed analysis indicated that this reflects a global (proportion of consistent and inconsistent motion trials within a particular experimental block), not local (preceding trial influencing actual trial) effect. Yet, additional follow-up studies (Experiments 3 & 4) support the idea that these changes in perceived location are strongly influenced by the overall stimulus speed statistics in the different experimental blocks. These results are discussed and interpreted in light of recent theoretical developments in the literature on motion perception that highlight the importance of expectations about stimulus speed for motion perception.