Stereoscopy benefits processing of dynamic visual scenes by disambiguating object occlusions
63.316, Wednesday, May 15, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Royal Ballroom 6-8
Jocelyn Faubert1, Rémy Allard1; 1Visual Psychophysics and Perception Laboratory, School of Optometry, Université de Montréal
How and to what extent stereoscopic cues help process dynamic visual scenes is still unknown. As we navigate in crowds or when we play sports we are often obliged to make rapid decisions in complex motion environments while attending to multiple elements. Stereoscopy can improve speed thresholds for a multiple object tracking (MOT) (Faubert & Sidebottom, 2012), but the nature of this advantage remains undetermined. From an attention perspective, there are at least two possible hypotheses to explain this advantage. One possibility is that stereoscopy reduces the attentional bottleneck as seen in 2-dimensional MOT environments (Intrilligator & Canavagh, 2001) by distributing attention uniformly in 3D space. Another hypothesis is that the stereoscopy helps attentional tracking by segregating the target and the non-target objects during occlusions. We have addressed these hypotheses by testing subjects with and without stereoscopic cues for different stimulus configurations in which pairs of spheres were rotating in orbit with one another in a 3D virtual space. In one set of conditions, object pairs rotated without ever occluding each other. In the second set of conditions, the objects occasionally occluded each other as they were rotating around an axis perpendicular to the observer. All conditions consisted of 4 pairs of spheres presented in each quadrant of the visual field at 20 degrees of eccentricity. Stereoscopy improved MOT speed threshold by a factor of about 3 when objects occluded each other, but slightly, yet significantly, impaired speed threshold by about 18% when objects did not occlude each other. We conclude that the overall benefit of stereoscopy for processing dynamic scenes comes from improved attention tracking by disambiguating targets from non-targets during occlusions. Conversely, stereoscopic cues were a disadvantage in absence of occlusions.