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THREE-SYSTEMS THEORY OF MOTION PERCEPTION. The experimental study of human visual motion perception was inaugurated in the 19th century by the Austrian physiologist Sigmund Exner (1846-1926), and since then researchers in this area have maintained that motion perception is a "primary sensation" in its own right. More recently, the American cognitive psychologists Zhong-Lin Lu and George Sperling (1995, 2001) propose that human visual motion perception is served by three separate motion systems in their three-systems theory of motion perception: a first-order system that responds to moving luminance patterns; a second-order system that responds to moving modulations of feature types (stimuli in which the expected luminance is the same everywhere but an area of higher contrast or of flicker moves); and a third-order system that computes the notion of marked locations in a "salience map" (i.e., a neural representation of visual space in which the locations of important visual features, or "figure," are marked, and "ground" is unmarked). Feature tracking in the system operates interocularly as well as monocularly, and includes both bottom-up (e.g., it computes motion from luminance-, feature-, contrast-, depth-, motion-, and flicker-modulation) and top-down (e.g., attentional instructions may determine perceived motion direction) processing. The three-systems theory of motion perception has gained some confirmatory evidence. For example, different gain-control mechanisms for first- and second-order motion, selective impairment of first- versus second- and/or third-order motion by different brain injuries, and new third-order motions (i.e., isoluminant chromatic motion) have been found and classified. Although some contradictions to the three-systems theory have been suggested, a newly-resolved three-systems theory of human visual motion perception apparently survives in a strengthened theoretical format. See also APPARENT MOVEMENT, PRINCIPLES/THEORIES OF; BOTTOM-UP PROCESSING THEORIES; PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF; TOP-DOWN PROCESSING THEORIES. REFERENCES

Exner, S. (1875). Experimentelle untersuchung der einfachsten psychishen processe. Archiv fur die Gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere, 11, 403-432. Lu, Z.-L., & Sperling, G. (1995). The functional architecture of human visual motion perception. Vision Research, 35, 2697-2722. Lu, Z.-L., & Sperling, G. (2001). Three-systems theory of human visual motion perception: Review and update. Journal of the Optical Society of America, 18, 2331-2370.

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