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Local mechanisms for the separation of optic flow-field components in the land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi: A role for motion parallax?

  • AARON P. JOHNSON (a1) (a2), W. JON. P. BARNES (a1) and MARTIN W.S. MACAULEY (a2)


Although a number of global mechanisms have been proposed over the years that explain how crabs might separate the rotational and translational components of their optic flow field, there has been no evidence to date that local mechanisms such as motion parallax are used in this separation. We describe here a study that takes advantage of a recently developed suite of computer-generated visual stimuli that creates a three-dimensional world surrounding the crab in which we can simulate translational and rotational optic flow. We show that, while motion parallax is not the only mechanism used in flow-field separation, it does play a role in the recognition of translational optic flow fields in that, under conditions of low overall light intensity and low contrast ratio when crabs find the distinction between rotation and translation harder, smaller eye movements occur in response to translation when motion parallax cues are present than when they are absent. Thus, motion parallax is one of many cues that crabs use to separate rotational and translational optic flow by showing compensatory eye movements to only the former.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Aaron P. Johnson, McGill Vision Research Unit, Department of Ophthalmology, 687 Pine Avenue West, H4-14, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 1A1. E-mail:


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Local mechanisms for the separation of optic flow-field components in the land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi: A role for motion parallax?

  • AARON P. JOHNSON (a1) (a2), W. JON. P. BARNES (a1) and MARTIN W.S. MACAULEY (a2)


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