Visual Speed Sensitivity in the Drum Corps Color Guard

Drum corps color guard experts spend years developing skills in spinning rifles, sabers, and flags. Their expertise provides a unique window into factors that govern sensitivity to the speed of rotational and radial motion. Prior neurophysiological research demonstrates that rotational and radial motion register in the Medial Superior Temporal (MST) region of the primate visual system. To the extent that shared neural events govern rotational and radial speed sensitivity, one would expect expertise on either task to transfer to the other. One similarly would expect shared neural events to generate correlations between rotational and radial speed sensitivity. We evaluated these predictions via visual speed sensitivity tests on drum corps color guard experts, drum corps low brass experts, and other age-matched control participants. Displays comprised bilaterally presented plaid patterns that rotated, radiated, or both. Participants reported which side contained faster motion. The data revealed a modest but reliably reproducible and specific group-by-task interaction; color guard speed sensitivity exhibited a rotational motion advantage and radial motion disadvantage. Additionally, rotational and radial speed sensitivity failed to predict each other significantly. Overall, the findings match predictions that follow from a dissociation between the neural events governing rotational and radial speed sensitivity.

Coauthored by Professor Leslie Welch. Full article found at the link below.