Illusory percepts of moving patterns due to discrete temporal sampling

William A. Simpson*, Uma Shahani, Velitchko Manahilov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Continuously, moving objects under continuous illumination can be seen to move in a direction opposite to their actual motion. This illusory reversed motion can be explained as due to discrete temporal sampling of the moving stimulus by the visual system. If temporal sampling lies behind the illusory motion, then the probability of illusory motion should depend on the temporal frequency of the motion stimulus. By presenting contracting bull's-eye gratings of various spatial frequencies we were able to tease apart the drift speed and temporal frequency. The prevalence of illusory percepts depended on the temporal frequency, not the speed. The data suggest that the human visual system samples the incoming stimulation at a rate near 16 Hz. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-27
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2004
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2005


  • motion illusions
  • visual motion perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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