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Physical interactions between objects, or between an object and the ground are amongst the most biologically relevant for live beings. Prior knowledge of Newtonian physics may play a role in disambiguating an object’s movement as well as foveation by increasing the spatial resolution of the visual input. Observers were shown a virtual 3D scene, representing an ambiguously rotating ball translating on the ground. The ball was perceived as rotating congruently with friction, but only when gaze was located at the point of contact. Inverting or even removing the visual context had little influence on congruent judgements compared to the effect of gaze. Counterintuitively, gaze at the point of contact determines the solution of perceptual ambiguity, but independently of visual context. We suggest this constitutes a frugal strategy, by which the brain infers dynamics locally when faced with a foveated input that is ambiguous.
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