Many organisms use visual signals to estimate motion, and these estimates typically are biased. Here, we ask whether these biases may reflect physical rather than biological limitations. Using a camera-gyroscope system, we sample the joint distribution of images and rotational motions in a natural environment, and from this distribution we construct the optimal estimator of velocity based on local image intensities. Over most of the natural dynamic range, this estimator exhibits the biases observed in neural and behavioral responses. Thus, imputed errors in sensory processing may represent an optimal response to the physical signals sampled from the environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)