Pakarian P, Yasamy M T, 2003, "Wagon-wheel illusion under steady illumination: real or illusory?" Perception 32(11) 1307 – 1310
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Wagon-wheel illusion under steady illumination: real or illusory?
Pooya Pakarian, Mohammad Taghi Yasamy
Received 8 February 2003, in revised form 15 June 2003
Abstract. Wheels turning in the movies sometimes appear to rotate backwards. This is called the wagon-wheel illusion (WWI). The mechanism of this illusion is based on the intermittent nature of light in films and other stroboscopic presentations, which renders them as a series of snapshots rather than a continuous visual data stream. However, there have been claims that this illusion is seen even in continuous light, which would suggest that the visual system itself may sample a continuous visual data stream. We examined the rate of this putative sampling and its variations across individuals while in different psychological states. We obtained two results: (i) WWI occurred in stroboscopic lights as expected, (ii) WWI was never reported by our subjects under continuous lights, such as sunlight and lamps with DC power source. Thus, WWI cannot be taken as evidence for discreteness of conscious visual perception.
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