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J Vis. 2019 Feb 1;19(2):3. doi: 10.1167/19.2.3.

When predictions fail: Correction for extrapolation in the flash-grab effect.

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Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Helmholtz Institute, Department of Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Motion-induced position shifts constitute a broad class of visual illusions in which motion and position signals interact in the human visual pathway. In such illusions, the presence of visual motion distorts the perceived positions of objects in nearby space. Predictive mechanisms, which could contribute to compensating for processing delays due to neural transmission, have been given as an explanation. However, such mechanisms have struggled to explain why we do not usually perceive objects extrapolated beyond the end of their trajectory. Advocates of this interpretation have proposed a "correction-for-extrapolation" mechanism to explain this: When the object motion ends abruptly, this mechanism corrects the overextrapolation by shifting the perceived object location backwards to its actual location. However, such a mechanism has so far not been empirically demonstrated. Here, we use a novel version of the flash-grab illusion to demonstrate this mechanism. In the flash-grab effect, a target is flashed on a moving background that abruptly changes direction, leading to the mislocalization of the target. Here, we manipulate the angle of the direction change to dissociate the contributions of the background motion before and after the flash. Consistent with previous reports, we observe that perceptual mislocalization in the flash-grab illusion is mainly driven by motion after the flash. Importantly, however, we reveal a small but consistent mislocalization component in the direction opposite to the direction of the first motion sequence. This provides empirical support for the proposed correction-for-extrapolation mechanism, and therefore corroborates the interpretation that motion-induced position shifts might result from predictive interactions between motion and position signals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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