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In the corner of the eye: camouflaging motion in the peripheral visual field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number20192537
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1918
DateAccepted/In press - 10 Dec 2019
DatePublished (current) - 15 Jan 2020


Most animals need to move, and motion will generally break camouflage. In many instances, most of the visual field of a predator does not fall within a high-resolution area of the retina and so, when an undetected prey moves, that motion will often be in peripheral vision. We investigate how this can be exploited by prey, through different patterns of movement, to reduce the accuracy with which the predator can locate a cryptic prey item when it subsequently orients towards a target. The same logic applies for a prey species trying to localise a predatory threat. Using human participants as surrogate predators, tasked with localising a target on peripherally viewed computer screens, we quantify the effects of movement (duration and speed) and target pattern. We show that, while motion is certainly detrimental to camouflage, should movement be necessary, some behaviours and surface patterns reduce that cost. Our data indicate that the phenotype that minimises localisation accuracy is unpatterned, having the mean luminance of the background, does not utilise a startle display prior to movement, and has short (below saccadic latency), fast movements.

    Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception

    Research areas

  • defensive coloration, motion camouflage, peripheral vision, position perception, visual search

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via The Royal Society at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 616 KB, PDF document


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