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    ABSTRACT: Curvature is a highly informative visual cue for shape perception and object recognition. We introduce a novel illusion-the Lemon Illusion-in which subtle illusory curvature is perceived along contour regions that are devoid of physical curvature. We offer several perceptual demonstrations and observations that lead us to conclude that the Lemon Illusion is an instance of a more general illusory curvature phenomenon, one in which the presence of contour curvature discontinuities lead to the erroneous extension of perceived curvature. We propose that this erroneous extension of perceived curvature results from the interaction of neural mechanisms that operate on spatially local contour curvature signals with higher-tier mechanisms that serve to establish more global representations of object shape. Our observations suggest that the Lemon Illusion stems from discontinuous curvature transitions between rectilinear and curved contour segments. However, the presence of curvature discontinuities is not sufficient to produce the Lemon Illusion, and the minimal conditions necessary to elicit this subtle and insidious illusion are difficult to pin down.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: The Ebbinghaus illusion is a classic example of the influence of a contextual surround on the perceived size of an object. Here, we introduce a novel variant of this illusion called the Dynamic Ebbinghaus illusion in which the size and eccentricity of the surrounding inducers modulates dynamically over time. Under these conditions, the size of the central circle is perceived to change in opposition with the size of the inducers. Interestingly, this illusory effect is relatively weak when participants are fixating a stationary central target, less than half the magnitude of the classic static illusion. However, when the entire stimulus translates in space requiring a smooth pursuit eye movement to track the target, the illusory effect is greatly enhanced, almost twice the magnitude of the classic static illusion. A variety of manipulations including target motion, peripheral viewing, and smooth pursuit eye movements all lead to dramatic illusory effects, with the largest effect nearly four times the strength of the classic static illusion. We interpret these results in light of the fact that motion-related manipulations lead to uncertainty in the image size representation of the target, specifically due to added noise at the level of the retinal input. We propose that the neural circuits integrating visual cues for size perception, such as retinal image size, perceived distance, and various contextual factors, weight each cue according to the level of noise or uncertainty in their neural representation. Thus, more weight is given to the influence of contextual information in deriving perceived size in the presence of stimulus and eye motion. Biologically plausible models of size perception should be able to account for the reweighting of different visual cues under varying levels of certainty.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Research studies in psychology typically use two-dimensional (2D) images of objects as proxies for real-world three-dimensional (3D) stimuli. There are, however, a number of important differences between real objects and images that could influence cognition and behavior. Although human memory has been studied extensively, only a handful of studies have used real objects in the context of memory and virtually none have directly compared memory for real objects vs. their 2D counterparts. Here we examined whether or not episodic memory is influenced by the format in which objects are displayed. We conducted two experiments asking participants to freely recall, and to recognize, a set of 44 common household objects. Critically, the exemplars were displayed to observers in one of three viewing conditions: real-world objects, colored photographs, or black and white line drawings. Stimuli were closely matched across conditions for size, orientation, and illumination. Surprisingly, recall and recognition performance was significantly better for real objects compared to colored photographs or line drawings (for which memory performance was equivalent). We replicated this pattern in a second experiment comparing memory for real objects vs. color photos, when the stimuli were matched for viewing angle across conditions. Again, recall and recognition performance was significantly better for the real objects than matched color photos of the same items. Taken together, our data suggest that real objects are more memorable than pictorial stimuli. Our results highlight the importance of studying real-world object cognition and raise the potential for applied use in developing effective strategies for education, marketing, and further research on object-related cognition.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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