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Trackable Features Provide a Cue to the Angular Velocity of Rotating Objects
AuthorBlair, Christopher D.
AdvisorCaplovitz, Gideon P.
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As an object rotates, each location on the object moves with an instantaneous linear velocity dependent upon its distance from the center of rotation, while the object as a whole rotates with a fixed angular velocity. Does the perceived rotational speed of an object correspond to its angular velocity, linear velocities, or some combination of the two? We had observers perform relative speed judgments of different sized objects, as changing the size of an object changes the linear velocity of each location on the object's surface, while maintaining the object's angular velocity. We found that the larger a given object is, the faster it is perceived to rotate. However, the observed relationships between size and perceived speed cannot be accounted for simply by size-related changes in linear velocity. Further, the degree to which size influences perceived rotational speed depends on the shape of the object. Specifically, perceived rotational speeds of objects with corners or regions of high contour curvature were less affected by size. The results suggest distinct contour features, such as corners or regions of high contour curvature, serve as trackable features that provide cues to the angular velocity of a rotating object.