Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The catch-up or fallback illusion

06.12.2017

Why we accidentally slow-down people on the motorway and lose football matches

Movement and orientation in space is an everyday experience. But it is also a fundamental theoretical problem for science. How does a moving observer perceive the relative movement between two other persons or objects? Despite its everyday relevance, this "perceptual three-body problem" is largely unexplored.


PD Dr. Tobias Meilinger

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics


An observer sees two runners moving away from her/him. Due to a distortion of perception, the rear appears to be faster than it is in reality – a catching-up illusion arises.

Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien / Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Dr. Tobias Meilinger from the department of Prof. Bülthoff at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biological Cybernetics and Dr. Bärbel Garsoffky and Prof. Dr. Stephan Schwan from the Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media (IWM) examined under which circumstances the perception of movement is distorted - and thus an illusion arises.

The experiment: A human being in motion. While the person is walking, she/he watches two other people. One seems to be following the other. The question to the observer: Can the persecutor catch up with the person pursued? The special feature of the study is the combination of two sources of movement – one’s own and the movements of two targets in the environment.

This is when we are talking about a triangular relationship which has a decisive influence on the observer's perception - and thus also on conclusions and decisions. Also in assessing whether the pursuer can catch up. Under certain circumstances, this leads to a distorted perception and thus misjudgment - in other words, an illusion arises.

Caption: An observer sees two runners moving away from her/him. Due to a distortion of perception, the rear appears to be faster than it is in reality – a catching-up illusion arises.

The result of the investigation: To assess the relative movement away from or towards an observer, the perception is often distorted - either a catch-up or a fallback illusion is created. In other words, depending on the observer's own speed, the pursuer seems to either reach the persecuted person or fall back. The scientists showed that these illusions arise from a changed perception of distance. Just as the dashed centerlines on a road seem to be shorter the further away they are, and the longer the closer they are. This also changes the perceived distance between two runners and thus the illusion if and when they catch up with each other.

But how does the illusion affect everyday life? Let's take two examples of perception from driving a car and football games. On the motorway: I'm driving on the left-hand lane of the motorway. Two cars are driving on the right-hand lane. The question: Can I foresee that the rear one wants to change to my lane? My assessment is influenced by the fact that I drive fast myself. I don't notice that the rear car accelerates, because the fallback illusion hides that.

The driver, however, starts to overtake, comes onto my track and slows me down. The distortion of her/his distance to the front car causes me to underestimate its true speed. A similar case on the football field: The striker from my team dashes to the opponent's goal, followed by an opposing player. I myself follow slower and want to play her/him the ball, but I overestimate the speed of the catching-up opponent due to the illusion and therefore I don't pass the ball on, missing the chance to score.

Whether on the street or on the football pitch, distortion of perception can lead to considerable disadvantages in both cases: I have to slow-down, the striker does not get the decisive pass. Possible countermeasures could be to point out to drivers or players that there is such a distortion and thus misjudgment.

Or: teach autonomous cars to take into account human perception distortion to prevent dangerous situations. Or: speed limits on motorways. In this way, the strong differences in speed variances that lead to distortion of perception can be avoided.

Original Publication:
www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-17158-8

Please read an interview about the study with Tobias Meilinger. (Link)

Contact:
PD Dr. Tobias Meilinger
MPI for Biological Cybernetics
Scientist
Telefon: ++ 49 (0) 7071 601 615
E-Mail: tobias.meilinger@tuebingen.mpg.de

Beate Fülle
MPI for Biological Cybernetics
Head of Communications and Public Relations
Telefon: +49 (0) 7071 601-777
E-mail: presse-kyb@tuebingen.mpg.de

Mira Keßler
Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien
Public Relations
Telefon: +49 (0) 7071 979-222
Email: m.kessler@iwm-tuebingen.de

Video Clip:
https://owncloud.tuebingen.mpg.de/index.php/s/Vl0lmnykWMzZuRC

Caption:
Two runners move away from a static observer, keeping the same distance to each other. However, the pursuer seems to catch up and illustrates the uplifting illusion. The videos in the experiment ended after 1.5 seconds and the speed of pursuers and observers varied.
Copyright: Drawing and Video Clip: Tobias Meilinger/Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Max-Planck-Institut for Biological Cybernetics
The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics works in the elucidation of cognitive processes. It employs about 300 people from more than 40 countries and is located at the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen, Germany. The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics is one of 83 research institutes that the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science maintains in Germany and abroad.

Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien
The Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM) in Tuebingen analyses teaching and learning with digital technologies. In a multidisciplinary environment, around 80 scientists from cognition, behavioural and social sciences work on solving research questions concerning individual and collective knowledge acquisition in media environments. Since 2009, the IWM and the University of Tuebingen jointly run Germany’s first Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus “Informational Environments”.
Internet address: www.iwm-tuebingen.de.

Weitere Informationen:

Video: https://owncloud.tuebingen.mpg.de/index.php/s/Vl0lmnykWMzZuRC
Press release: http://tuebingen.mpg.de/en/news-press/press-releases/
MPI for Biological Cybernetics: http://www.kyb.tuebingen.mpg.de
Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien: www.iwm-tuebingen.de
http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-17158-8

Public Realtions Office | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
15.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht How the gut ‘talks’ to brown fat
16.11.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>