Scintillating Starbursts: Concentric Star Polygons Induce Illusory Ray Patterns

Iperception. 2021 Jun 29;12(3):20416695211018720. doi: 10.1177/20416695211018720. eCollection 2021 May-Jun.


Here, we introduce and explore Scintillating Starbursts, a stimulus type made up of concentric star polygons that induce illusory scintillating rays or beams. We test experimentally which factors, such as contrast and number of vertices, modulate how observers experience this stimulus class. We explain how the illusion arises from the interplay of known visual processes, specifically central versus peripheral vision, and interpret the phenomenology evoked by these patterns. We discuss how Starbursts differ from similar and related visual illusions such as illusory contours, grid illusions such as the pincushion grid illusion as well as moiré patterns.

Keywords: Gestalt; illusion; illusory contours; moiré pattern; pincushion grid illusion; scintillating grid; unconscious inference.