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Vision Res. 1996 Jan;36(1):109-16.

The abutting grating illusion.

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  • 1Universit├Ąts-Augenklinik, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


Two line gratings abutting each other with a phase shift of half a cycle elicit the perception of an illusory line running orthogonally between the two sets of grating lines. We found that rating strength increases with increasing number of lines, line length, and phase angle. In contrast, rating strength decreases with increasing spacing of lines, lateral misalignment, rotation of one grating relative to the other, and line width. There is a pronounced oblique effect at 45 deg when the orientation of the abutting gratings is changed from horizontal through diagonal to vertical. Findings are interpreted in terms of a neurophysiological model. We conclude that the end-stopped receptive fields activated by the grating lines are about 6 deg long and 2 deg wide. On the other hand, the "response fields" of the cells, integrating orthogonally across line ends, are assumed to be 5 deg long and less than 1 deg wide. The psychophysical data compare favorably with available neurophysiological data in Area V2 of the macaque suggesting that the perception of illusory contours in human observers may be based on cortical cell properties similar to those found in the monkey.

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