June 2007
Volume 7, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2007
Explaining the Footsteps, Bellydancer, Wenceslas, and Kickback illusions
Author Affiliations
  • Piers Howe
    Dept. Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
  • Peter Thompson
    Dept. Psychology, University of York
  • Stuart Anstis
    Dept. Psychology, University of California San Diego
  • Hersh Sagreiya
    Dept. Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
  • Margaret Livingstone
    Dept. Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
Journal of Vision June 2007, Vol.7, 982. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.982
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      Piers Howe, Peter Thompson, Stuart Anstis, Hersh Sagreiya, Margaret Livingstone; Explaining the Footsteps, Bellydancer, Wenceslas, and Kickback illusions. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):982. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.982.

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

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The Footsteps Illusion demonstrates that an object's background can have a profound effect on the object's perceived speed. This illusion consists of a yellow bar and a blue bar that move over a black and white striped background. Though the bars move at a constant rate, they appear to repeatedly accelerate and decelerate in antiphase with each other. Previously, this illusion has been explained in terms of the variations in contrast at the leading and trailing edges of the bars that occur as the bars traverse the striped background. Here we show that this explanation is inadequate and instead propose that for each bar the bar's leading edge, trailing edge, lateral edges, and the surrounding background edges all contribute to the bar's perceived speed, and the degree to which each edge contributes to the motion percept is determined by that edge's contrast. We show that this theory can explain all the data on the Footsteps Illusion and also can explain the Bellydancer and Wenceslas Illusions. We conclude by presenting a new illusion, the Kickback Illusion, which, though geometrically similar to the Footsteps Illusion, is mediated by a different mechanism, namely reverse phi motion. Examples of all the stimuli used in the experiments will be shown.

Howe, P. Thompson, P. Anstis, S. Sagreiya, H. Livingstone, M. (2007). Explaining the Footsteps, Bellydancer, Wenceslas, and Kickback illusions [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 7(9):982, 982a, http://journalofvision.org/7/9/982/, doi:10.1167/7.9.982. [CrossRef]
 This work was supported by a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation grant to P.H., a grant from the UCSD Academic Senate to S.A., and NIH grant EY 13135 and ARO grant 46961 to M.L.

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