Contrast, contours and the confusion effect in dazzle camouflage

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‘Motion dazzle camouflage’ is the name for the putative effects of highly conspicuous, often repetitive or complex, patterns on parameters important in prey capture, such as the perception of speed, direction and identity. Research into motion dazzle camouflage is increasing our understanding of the interactions between visual tracking, the confusion effect and defensive coloration. However, there is a paucity of research into the effects of contrast on motion dazzle camouflage: is maximal contrast a prerequisite for effectiveness? If not, this has important implications for our recognition of the phenotype and understanding of the function and mechanisms of potential motion dazzle camouflage patterns. Here we tested human participants' ability to track one moving target among many identical distractors with surface patterns designed to test the influence of these factors. In line with previous evidence, we found that targets with stripes parallel to the object direction of motion were hardest to track. However, reduction in contrast did not significantly influence this result. This finding may bring into question the utility of current definitions of motion dazzle camouflage, and means that some animal patterns, such as aposematic or mimetic stripes, may have previously unrecognized multiple functions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number160180
Number of pages7
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Early online date6 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception


  • dazzle camouflage
  • confusion effect
  • defensive coloration
  • target tracking

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