December 2001
Volume 1, Issue 3
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2001
A new form of illusory conjunction between color and shape
Author Affiliations
  • R. Cai
    Vision Sciences Laboratory, Psychology Dept., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • J. Schlag
    Neurobiology Dept. UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Journal of Vision December 2001, Vol.1, 127. doi:
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      R. Cai, J. Schlag; A new form of illusory conjunction between color and shape. Journal of Vision 2001;1(3):127. doi:

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

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We demonstrate a new visual illusion involving the illusory conjunction between color and shape. A bar gradually changes size as it moves horizontally. Somewhere along its trajectory, it also changes to a different color for one frame. The new color is perceptually assigned to a different sized bar at a new spatial location. This new illusion differs from the previously reported illusory conjunction of features (e.g. Treisman & Schmidt, 82) in several important ways. First, previous illusory conjunction was obtained under split-attention conditions. This new form of illusory conjunction can be obtained at the center of focal attention. Second, previous illusory conjunction usually occurred in less than 50% of trials, whereas this new form of illusory conjunction occurs in nearly 100% of trials. Third, this new form of illusory conjunction is directly perceived by the subjects, and it can be quantitatively measured by psychophysical techniques; whereas the previous illusory conjunction was usually recalled by the subjects after the trial, and the features being conjoined were of a random nature. We propose a model that predicts the amount of this illusory conjunction. It is based on the principle that the brain represents continuously changing features of an object in a fundamentally different way from abruptly changing features. This difference leads to an asynchrony in the processing of abrupt and continuous features, resulting in a misbinding between the two. We will show how this model can also account for a number of other illusions in the literature.

Cai, R., Schlag, J.(2001). A new form of illusory conjunction between color and shape [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 1( 3): 127, 127a,, doi:10.1167/1.3.127. [CrossRef]

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