Levine M W, McAnany J J, 2008, "The effects of curvature on the grid illusions" Perception 37(2) 171 – 184
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The effects of curvature on the grid illusions
Michael W Levine, J Jason McAnany
Received 1 September 2006, in revised form 17 May 2007; published online 20 February 2008
Abstract. Grid illusions, including the Hermann grid and scintillating grid (in which light disks are superimposed upon the grid intersections), are diminished by curving the alleys that limn the repeating pattern. Curvature might either disrupt the processes that induce the illusion, or simply make the illusory effects harder to see. To determine which mechanism might be invoked, we examined the effects of curving the alleys upon the vanishing-disk illusion, a phenomenon in which a single disk in a grid intersection is rendered less detectable. This illusion is of reduced visibility, rather than generating an illusory apparition as in the Hermann grid or scintillating grid. Thus, inhibition of illusory influence would enhance disk visibility, while a general reduction of visibility would render disks even harder to detect. We find that thresholds for both scintillation and the disk itself increase in a graded manner with increased curvature. Measuring the effect of curvature upon the vanishing disk with traditional forced-choice staircase methods demonstrates that the effect of curvature is upon detection, not subjective criterion. Furthermore, disks that are easy to detect within a rectilinear grid are more difficult to detect when the alleys are curved. Thus, curvature of the alleys induces a general tendency to inhibit the visibility of features, and is not specifically a repression of illusory effects.
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