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Apparent speed increases at low luminance.

To investigate the effect of luminance on apparent speed, subjects adjusted the speed of a low-luminance rotating grating (0.31 cd/m^2) to match that of a high-luminance one (1260 cd/m^2). Above 4 Hz, subjects overestimated the speed of the low-luminance grating. This overestimation increased as a function of temporal rate and reached 30% around 10 Hz temporal rates. The speed overestimation became significant once the lower luminance was 2.4 log units lower than the high luminance comparison. Next the role of motion smear in speed overestimation was examined. First it was shown that the length of the perceived motion smear increased at low luminances. Second, the length of the visible smear was manipulated by changing the presentation time of the stimuli. Speed overestimation was reduced at shorter presentation times. Third the speed of a blurred stimulus was compared to a stimulus with sharp edges and the blurred stimulus was judged to move faster. These results indicate that the length of motion smear following a target contributes to its perceived speed and that this leads to speed overestimation at low luminance where motion traces lengthen because of increased persistence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)