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Ari Z. Zivotofsky; The Duncker Illusion: Intersubject Variability, Brief Exposure, and the Role of Eye Movements in Its Generation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(8):2867-2872. doi: 10.1167/iovs.04-0031.
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purpose. The Duncker illusion, also known as induced motion, is the illusory component of an object’s motion that results from background movement. The origins of this robust phenomenon are still subject to debate. The goal of this study was to examine the role eye movements play in its generation.
methods. The Duncker illusion was generated by rear-projecting an LED target and a random-dot background onto a semitranslucent screen. Each moved under independent control of mirror galvanometers. The background was either stationary or moved vertically, whereas the target moved horizontally with various degrees of a vertical component. Using a two-alternative, forced-choice cancellation paradigm involving multiple interleaved staircases, seven human subjects quantified the illusion under a variety of conditions. These conditions included varying the exposure time from 50 to 200 ms.
results. The strength of the illusion did not decrease, even when exposures too brief to generate eye movement were used. Four of the subjects showed no difference between long and short exposures (P > 0.12). In two the illusion was stronger for short exposures (P < 0.05), and in one the illusion was not quantifiable. There was little intrasubject variability across trial types, yet there was a large intersubject variability in the strength of the illusion.
conclusions. The illusion is robust in that it is perceived under a wide variety of conditions by all observers. By varying the parameters, it was possible to demonstrate that eye movements do not play a role in generating the illusion and that this robust illusion is most likely caused by the visual system attributing relative motion between target and background to target motion and ignoring any true background movement. The mechanism by which this occurs varies in degree between individuals.
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