The role of motion and number of element locations in mirror symmetry perception

Rebecca Sharman, Elena Gheorghiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


The human visual system has specialised mechanisms for encoding mirror-symmetry and for detecting symmetric motion-directions for objects that loom or recede from the observers. The contribution of motion to mirror-symmetry perception has never been investigated. Here we examine symmetry detection thresholds for stationary (static and dynamic flicker) and symmetrically moving patterns (inwards, outwards, random directions) with and without positional symmetry. We also measured motion detection and direction-discrimination thresholds for horizontal (left, right) and symmetrically moving patterns with and without positional symmetry. We found that symmetry detection thresholds were (a) significantly higher for static patterns, but there was no difference between the dynamic flicker and symmetrical motion conditions, and (b) higher than motion detection and direction-discrimination thresholds for horizontal or symmetrical motion, with or without positional symmetry. In addition, symmetrical motion was as easy to detect or discriminate as horizontal motion. We conclude that whilst symmetrical motion per se does not contribute to symmetry perception, limiting the lifetime of pattern elements does improve performance by increasing the number of element-locations as elements move from one location to the next. This may be explained by a temporal integration process in which weak, noisy symmetry signals are combined to produce a stronger signal.
Original languageEnglish
Article number45679
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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