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Journal Article

Exploring the link between time-to-collision and representational momentum


Thornton,  IM
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Gray, R., & Thornton, I. (2001). Exploring the link between time-to-collision and representational momentum. Perception, 30(8), 1007-1022. doi:10.1068/p3220.

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Previous research has shown that when a moving object is occluded prior to collision with another stationary object, observers tend to consistently underestimate the physical/actual time to collision (TTC). We examined whether mislocalization of the initial point of disappearance plays any role in this underestimation. To assess the contribution of mislocalization, we coupled a standard TTC paradigm with a representational-momentum paradigm. Representational momentum refers to the tendency to mislocalize the remembered stopping point of a moving object as being too far forward along an actual or implied path of motion. Using identical displays we found large representational-momentum shifts and consistent underestimation of TTC. When the displays were modified to disambiguate the point of disappearance, representational momentum was absent or significantly reduced and underestimates of TTC were effectively eliminated. These results strongly suggest that the represented point of disappearance is an important factor in TTC estimation and that systematic forward displacement of this point may partially explain frequently observed underestimation.