Background stripes affect apparent speed of rotation

Stuart Anstis, Hiroyuki Ito, Patrick Cavanagh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    A gray line that rotated about its own center against a stationary background of vertical stripes appeared to double in perceptual speed as it rotated through the vertical position and thus momentarily aligned with the background. Four factors may contribute to this speed-up: (i) landmarks, in which the tip of the moving vertical line moves horizontally across the maximum number of stationary stripes; (ii) orientation repulsion of the moving line by the vertical stripes, which may distort the line's perceived position and hence its perceived speed; (iii) the orientation of an induced brightness pattern along the line; and (iv) the motion of the induced brightness pattern, which moves physically most rapidly along the line when the line is near vertical. To test these possibilities, an annulus display provided landmarks but no intersections, and this almost abolished the effect. A rotating-slit display provided an oriented, moving pattern that mimicked the induced brightness but had no landmarks, and this increased the effect. We conclude that the motion, but not the orientation, of the intersections [option (iv)] was responsible for the illusion. The fact that this motion along the length of the line affected the perceived speed of the line orthogonal to its own length indicates a failure on the part of the visual system to fully decouple tangential from radial motion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)959-964
    Number of pages6
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Ophthalmology
    • Sensory Systems
    • Artificial Intelligence


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