Adventures with gelatinous ellipses: constraints on models of human motion analysis

Yair Weiss and Edward H Adelson

Perception, volume 29, pages 543-566 (2000)


An ellipse rotating rigidly about its center may appear to rotate rigidly or to deform nonrigidly so that it appears gelatinous. We use this ambiguous stimulus to study how motion information is propagated across space. We find that features that are quite far from the contour of the ellipse may have a strong influence on the percept of the ellipse, provided they move in a way consistent with the motion of the ellipse. We show that the percept cannot be accounted for by computational models that pool constraints over a local area only, or by models that propagate information along contours, or by models that indiscriminately propagate information across space. However, the percept can be accounted for by a class of models that assume smoothness in a layered representation.