Evidence against the temporal subsampling account of illusory motion reversal

J Vis. 2008 Apr 18;8(4):13.1-5. doi: 10.1167/8.4.13.


An illusion of reversed motion may occur sporadically while viewing continuous smooth motion. This has been suggested as evidence of discrete temporal sampling by the visual system in analogy to the sampling that generates the wagon-wheel effect on film (D. Purves, J. A. Paydarfar, & T. J. Andrews, 1996; R. VanRullen, L. Reddy, & C. Koch, 2005). In an alternative theory, the illusion is not the result of discrete sampling but instead of perceptual rivalry between appropriately activated and spuriously activated motion detectors (K. A. Kline, A. O. Holcombe, & D. M. Eagleman, 2004, 2006). Results of the current study demonstrate that illusory reversals of two spatially overlapping and orthogonal motions often occur separately, providing evidence against the possibility that illusory motion reversal (IMR) is caused by temporal sampling within a visual region. Further, we find that IMR occurs with non-uniform and non-periodic stimuli-an observation that is not accounted for by the temporal sampling hypothesis. We propose, that a motion aftereffect is superimposed on the moving stimulus, sporadically allowing motion detectors for the reverse direction to dominate perception.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics / methods
  • Visual Cortex / physiology