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Steve Beukema, Jay A. Olson, Ben J. Jennings, Frederick A. A. Kingdom; Pupil dilation to illusory motion in peripheral drift images: Perception versus reality. Journal of Vision 2017;17(8):1. doi: 10.1167/17.8.1.
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Peripheral drift is a specific type of illusory motion that causes observers to perceive motion in a static image. We aimed to determine whether pupil dilation occurs during the perception of illusory motion. In three experiments investigating pupil-size changes to peripheral drift, pupil response differences were observed between symmetric patterns (SPs) that elicited no impression of motion and repeated asymmetric patterns (RAPs) that did. All participants reported the perception of motion in the RAP condition and showed significantly greater pupil dilation to these stimuli as compared with viewing stimuli in the SP condition. As a follow-up, we manipulated the RAP stimuli to reduce and then remove the illusion to determine (a) whether it was the asymmetry per se that induced the pupil dilation and (b) whether the amount of pupil dilation was contingent on the amount of observed illusory motion. Although a reduction in perceived illusory motion did not produce a reduction in pupil dilation, removal of the illusory motion did. Despite previous evidence reporting pupil constriction to the perception of motion, and the positive valence associated with symmetry, these experiments show that pupil dilation occurs during the perception of illusory motion. This is in keeping with previous evidence that pupil dilation is influenced by perceptual factors and not simply light level, and, in particular, shows that illusory motion is physiologically arousing.
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