Motion-Dependent Filling-In of Spatiotemporal Information at the Blind Spot

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 21;11(4):e0153896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153896. eCollection 2016.


We usually do not notice the blind spot, a receptor-free region on the retina. Stimuli extending through the blind spot appear filled in. However, if an object does not reach through but ends in the blind spot, it is perceived as "cut off" at the boundary. Here we show that even when there is no corresponding stimulation at opposing edges of the blind spot, well known motion-induced position shifts also extend into the blind spot and elicit a dynamic filling-in process that allows spatial structure to be extrapolated into the blind spot. We presented observers with sinusoidal gratings that drifted into or out of the blind spot, or flickered in counterphase. Gratings moving into the blind spot were perceived to be longer than those moving out of the blind spot or flickering, revealing motion-dependent filling-in. Further, observers could perceive more of a grating's spatial structure inside the blind spot than would be predicted from simple filling-in of luminance information from the blind spot edge. This is evidence for a dynamic filling-in process that uses spatiotemporal information from the motion system to extrapolate visual percepts into the scotoma of the blind spot. Our findings also provide further support for the notion that an explicit spatial shift of topographic representations contributes to motion-induced position illusions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Optic Disk / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Fields*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult