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Perception. 1986;15(5):553-62.

A test of the spatial-frequency explanation of the Müller-Lyer illusion.


Previous investigations have shown that the response of spatial-frequency-specific channels in the human visual system is differentially affected by adaptation to gratings of distinct spatial frequencies and/or orientations. A study is reported of the effects of adaptation to vertical or horizontal gratings of a high or a low spatial frequency on the extent of the Brentano form of the Müller-Lyer illusion in human observers. It is shown that the illusion decreases after adaptation to vertical gratings of low spatial frequency, but seems unaffected otherwise. These results are consistent with the notion of visual channels that are spatial-frequency and orientation specific, and support the argument that the Müller-Lyer illusion may be due primarily to lower-spatial-frequency components in the Fourier spectra of the image.

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