August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Microsaccades and blinks trigger illusory rotation in the "Rotating Snakes" illusion
Author Affiliations
  • Jorge Otero-Millan
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA\nSignal Theory and Communications, University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain
  • Stephen L. Macknik
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA\nNeurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Susana Martinez-Conde
    Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1013. doi:10.1167/12.9.1013
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      Jorge Otero-Millan, Stephen L. Macknik, Susana Martinez-Conde; Microsaccades and blinks trigger illusory rotation in the "Rotating Snakes" illusion. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1013. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1013.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Certain repetitive arrangements of luminance gradients elicit the perception of strong illusory motion. Among them, the "Rotating Snakes" Illusion has generated a great amount of interest in the visual neurosciences, as well as in the public. Prior evidence indicates that the Rotating Snakes Illusion depends critically on eye movements, yet the specific eye movement types involved and their associated neural mechanisms remain controversial. According to recent reports, slow ocular drift, -- a non-saccadic type of fixational eye movement -- drives the illusion, whereas microsaccades produced during attempted fixation fail to do so. Here we asked subjects to indicate the presence or absence of rotation during the observation of the illusion, while we simultaneously recorded their eye movements with high precision. We found a strong quantitative link between microsaccade and blink production and illusory rotation. These results suggest that transient oculomotor events such as microsaccades, saccades and blinks, rather than continuous drift, act to trigger the illusory motion in the Rotating Snakes Illusion.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012

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