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Motion misperception caused by feedback connections: A neural model simulating the Fröhlich effect

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When asked to indicate the starting position of a fast moving stimulus, observers do not indicate the actual starting position but a later position on the motion trajectory. This perceptual illusion is known as the “Fröhlich effect”. We present a neural model aimed at simulating this phenomenon based on feedforward and feedback connections. The basic simulation mechanisms seem to be compatible with the attentional and the motion extrapolation account. A comparison between simulated and empirical results showed that the model is capable of generating the same main effects as those found in the empirical data.

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  1. 1.

    RFsize (degrees)=0.57·eccentricity0.69 (after Rosa et al., 1997).

  2. 2.
    $$o_{i}(t) = \frac{1}{{1 + \hbox{e}^{ - (\hbox{net}_{i}(t) + o_{i}(t - 1)/2) - \theta)/\tau } }}$$

    where net i (t) is the weighted sum of inputs and o i (t) is the output of neuron i at time t (after Skapura, 1996, but the former output is added to the input value).

  3. 3.

    For a layer with neurons 1, ..., N, and o i min being the minimal output of neuron i, the center of gravity of its activation is located at position c(t) as computed by the following equation:

    $$c(t) = \frac{{\sum\limits_{i = 1}^N {i \left(o_{i}(t) - o_{i}^{\rm min} \right)} }}{{\sum\limits_{i = 1}^N {\left(o_{i}(t) - o_{i}^{\rm min}\right)} }}.$$
  4. 4.

    This led to virtual retrace rates of 21.85 and 121.55 Hz. The virtual retrace rates do not match those of Müsseler and Aschersleben (1998) because the subject–screen distance, the stimulus size, and the way to generate the motion of the stimulus differed between the simulation and the actual experiments.


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This work was supported by a fellowship within the postdoc program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to Elena Carbone and Grant AN 393/1–1 by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to Ulrich Ansorge, Holk Cruse, and Odmar Neumann. We thank Ulrich Ansorge, Mark Elliott, Ingrid Scharlau, and one anonymous reviewer for their comments on an earlier draft.

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Correspondence to Elena Carbone.

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Carbone, E., Pomplun, M. Motion misperception caused by feedback connections: A neural model simulating the Fröhlich effect. Psychological Research 71, 709–715 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-006-0060-8

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  • Motion Direction
  • Transmission Delay
  • Neural Model
  • Stimulus Location
  • Attention Shift