Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 517–532 | Cite as

Comparisons of flashILM, transformational apparent motion, and polarized gamma motion indicate these are three independent and separable illusions

  • HyunYoung Ha
  • Jeff P. HammEmail author


Illusory line motion (ILM) refers to perceived motion in a bar when it is presented all at once. Explanations for ILM include low-level visual accounts, visual attention, and object tracking. These explanations tend to arise from studies using different protocols to induce ILM, based on the assumption that the same illusion is being generated. Using real motion in the same and in the opposite direction as the ILM quantifies the illusions from all protocols as the area between response curves for the left- and right-side inducers. This common measure enables testing of the assumption that two display configurations result in the same illusion. If there is a common underlying cause, an individual who shows a strong illusion in one situation should show a strong illusion in the other, but illusions that arise through different systems should not correlate. This approach has differentiated ILM induced by a flash (flashILM) from ILM induced by matching the bar to an attribute of the inducing stimuli (transformational apparent motion, TAM). The former is thought to reflect attention, while the latter is thought to reflect object processing. Low-level visual explanations are often offered based on ILM that occurs when the bar is adjacent to only a single inducer (polarized gamma motion, PGM) rather than between two stimuli (flashILM and TAM). The present study replicates the independence of flashILM and TAM and shows that neither is related to PGM, suggesting that all three explanations for ILM are warranted and that the debates in the literature are conflating at least three different illusions.


Motion Attention Visual perception 



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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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