Visual motion of missing-fundamental patterns: Motion energy versus feature correspondence

Richard O. Brown, Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Missing-fundamental gratings, generated by subtracting the fundamental Fourier components from square-wave gratings, appear to move backward when presented in quarter-cycle jumps, even though their edges and features all move forward. We used variants of these stimuli to test current models of motion perception. We found that missing-fundamental plaids, constructed from orthogonal missing-fundamental gratings, also appear to move backward. Forward motion was restored to missing-fundamental gratings and plaids by adding back small fractions of the original fundamental. In-phase and antiphase addition of the fundamental had similar effects on the perceived motion, despite having markedly different effects on the features, appearances and zero-crossings of the stimuli. The critical amplitude of fundamental needed to restore forward motion to plaids was the same as that needed to restore forward motion to their isolated component gratings, indicating that the plaids' emergent features, such as edge intersections and 'blobs', made little or no contribution to the perceived direction of motion in these stimuli. In two derivative experiments, missing-fundamental chromatic gratings and plaids, at approximate isoluminance, and missing-fundamental luminance barberpoles, also generated backward perceived motions, and these were also reversed by in-phase or antiphase addition of small amounts of fundamental. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2135-2147
Number of pages13
JournalVision Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to Donald MacLeod for many important contributions to this study, and to Janet Atkinson, Oliver Braddick and Stuart Anstis for valuable comments. This work was supported by NIH grant EY-01711.


  • Barberpole
  • Feature tracking
  • Missing fundamental pattern
  • Motion energy
  • Plaids


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