Visuomotor Sensitivity to Visual Information about Surface Orientation

David C. Knill, Daniel Kersten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We measured human visuomotor sensitivity to visual information about three-dimensional surface orientation by analyzing movements made to place an object on a slanted surface. We applied linear discriminant analysis to the kinematics of subjects' movements to surfaces with differing slants (angle away form the fronto-parallel) to derive visuomotor d's for discriminating surfaces differing in slant by 5°. Subjects' visuomotor sensitivity to information about surface orientation was very high, with discrimination "thresholds" ranging from 2 to 3 degrees. In a first experiment, we found that subjects performed only slightly better using binocular cues alone than monocular texture cues and that they showed only weak evidence for combining the cues when both were available, suggesting that monocular cues can be just as effective in guiding motor behavior in depth as binocular cues. In a second experiment, we measured subjects' perceptual discrimination and visuomotor thresholds in equivalent stimulus conditions to decompose visuomotor sensitivity into perceptual and motor components. Subjects' visuomotor thresholds were found to be slightly greater than their perceptual thresholds for a range of memory delays, from 1 to 3 s. The data were consistent with a model in which perceptual noise increases with increasing delay between stimulus presentation and movement initiation, but motor noise remains constant. This result suggests that visuomotor and perceptual systems rely on the same visual estimates of surface slant for memory delays ranging from 1 to 3 s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1350-1366
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


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