2004 volume 33(1) pages 11 – 20
doi:10.1068/p3346

Cite as:
Kitaoka A, Pinna B, Brelstaff G, 2004, "Contrast polarities determine the direction of Café Wall tilts" Perception 33(1) 11 – 20

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Contrast polarities determine the direction of Café Wall tilts

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Baingio Pinna, Gavin Brelstaff

Received 12 February 2002, in revised form 21 July 2003

Abstract. We propose an explanatory approach to Café Wall type illusions that is simple yet fairly comprehensive. These illusions are constructed out of basic elementary units in a jigsaw-like manner. Each unit, in general, contains both a solid body and a thin tail: the contrast polarity between the two determines the direction of the contributory illusory tilt produced by that element -- according to a heuristic rule illustrated in figure 1. Ensembles of these elements exhibit illusory tilts only when the tails of the elements align along a common line in an additive manner. When elements of opposing polarity alternate, the illusion is cancelled. This approach extends and supersedes those presented in Pinna's illusion of angularity and Kitaoka's 'acute' corner effect. Furthermore, it appears to be, in part, compatible with existing mechanisms proposed to account for the emergence of local tilt cues, and it suggests several novel variations on the Café Wall theme.

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