, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 149–156

A new look at Op art: towards a simple explanation of illusory motion


DOI: 10.1007/s00114-004-0511-2

Cite this article as:
Zanker, J.M. & Walker, R. Naturwissenschaften (2004) 91: 149. doi:10.1007/s00114-004-0511-2


Vivid motion illusions created by some Op art paintings are at the centre of a lively scientific debate about possible mechanisms that might underlie these phenomena. Here we review emerging evidence from a new approach that combines perceptual judgements of the illusion and observations of eye movements with simulations of the induced optic flow. This work suggests that the small involuntary saccades which participants make when viewing such Op art patterns would generate an incoherent distribution of motion signals that resemble the perceptual effects experienced by the observers. The combined experimental and computational evidence supports the view that the illusion is indeed caused by involuntary image displacements picked up by low-level motion detectors, and further suggests that coherent motion signals are crucial to perceive a stable world.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRoyal Holloway University of LondonEghamUK

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