Determinants of the direction illusion: motion speed and dichoptic presentation interact to reveal systematic individual differences in sign

J Vis. 2014 Jul 17;14(8):14. doi: 10.1167/14.8.14.


When two fields of dots with different directions of movement are presented in tandem, the perceived direction of one is biased by the presence of the other. Although this ‘‘direction illusion’’ typically involves repulsion, with an exaggeration of the perceived angular difference in direction between the dot fields, attraction effects, where the perceived difference is reduced, have also been found under certain presentation conditions. Earlier literature has been inconsistent, and there is debate surrounding the nature of the interactions that facilitate the direction illusion, as well as whether they occur at a local or global stage of the motion processing hierarchy. Here we measured the operating characteristics of the direction illusion by parametrically varying inducer contrast and coherence while examining the effects of stimulus speed and dichoptic presentation. It was found that the magnitude and sign of the direction illusion differed substantially from earlier research. Furthermore, there appeared to be significant interindividual variability, with dichoptic presentation producing an attractive rather than repulsive direction illusion in some participants.

Keywords: contextual modulation; dichoptic stimuli; direction illusion; direction repulsion; interocular transfer; motion; vision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology*
  • Young Adult