Illusory continuous motion from oscillating positive-negative patterns: implications for motion perception

Perception. 1986;15(5):627-40. doi: 10.1068/p150627.


A black and white (positive) grating pattern was superimposed in exact register on its own photographic negative. Four operations were repetitively applied to this positive pattern so that it moved fractionally to the right, grew dimmer, moved back to the left, and grew brighter again. This sequence produced a strong illusion of continuous apparent motion to the right for as long as the cycle was repeated. The small relative motion between the two patterns generated two new illusory effects: enhanced real movement (ERM) and reversed real movement (RRM). The dimming and brightening phases gave rise to reversed apparent movement (RAM). All three effects are attributed to spatial filtering by neural mechanisms, which shifts the effective position of the positive-negative contours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception
  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Lighting*
  • Motion Perception*
  • Optical Illusions*
  • Rotation