Visual inertia of rotating 3-D objects

Yang Jiang, Allan J. Pantle, Leonard S. Mark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Five experiments were designed to determine whether a rotating, transparent 3-D cloud of dots (simulated sphere) could influence the perceived direction of rotation of a subsequent sphere. Experiment 1 established conditions under which the direction of rotation of a virtual sphere was perceived unambiguously. When a near-far luminance difference and perspective depth cues were present, observers consistently saw the sphere rotate in the intended direction. In Experiment 2, a near-far luminance difference was used to create an unambiguous rotation sequence that was followed by a directionally ambiguous rotation sequence that lacked both the near-far luminance cue and the perspective cue. Observers consistently saw the second sequence as rotating in the same direction as the first, indicating the presence of 3-D visual inertia. Experiment 3 showed that 3-D visual inertia was sufficiently powerful to bias the perceived direction of a rotation sequence made unambiguous by a near-far luminance cue. Experiment 5 showed that 3-D visual inertia could be obtained using an occlusion depth cue to create an unambiguous inertia-inducing sequence. Finally, Experiments 2, 4, and 5 all revealed a fast-decay phase of inertia that lasted for approximately 800 msec, followed by an asymptotic phase that lasted for periods as long as 1,600 msec. The implications of these findings are examined with respect to motion mechanisms of 3-D visual inertia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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