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Iperception. 2011 May; 2(4): 389.
Published online 2011 May 1. doi:  10.1068/ic389
PMCID: PMC5393778

Illusory Centrifugal Motion Direction Observed in Brief Stimuli: Psychophysics and Energy Model


All stationary stimuli of fixed duration have motion energy and the amount of motion energy increases with decreasing duration. Consequently, perception of motion direction could be biased if the readout mechanisms are unbalanced. Previous physiological study showed prefered direction of MT neurons in peripheral tend to be oriented away from fovea(Albright, 1989). Given the broadening of motion energy in brief stimuli, such effect should increase as the stimulus duration decreases. Here, we tested this hypothesis by presenting vertical gratings (0.5c/deg, raised cosine spatial envelope, radius = 5deg, 98% contrast) with different speeds(2,4,8 16deg/sec) and direction(moving towards fovea or moving away from fovea). And Stimuli were presented in a temporal Gaussian envelope with durations ranging between 5 and 500ms. Observers' task was to identify perceived motion direction (guessing when unsure). Results showed that as predicted, the observers were biased to perceive these stimuli as moving away from fovea. In summary, briefly presented stationary stimuli are perceived as moving in centrifugal direction when presented in visual periphery. One possible explanation for this illusion is that these stimuli, by virtue of their broad temporal frequency spectrum, stimulate centrifugally biased motion mechanisms in area MT.

Articles from i-Perception are provided here courtesy of SAGE Publications