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Neuroscientists find famous optical illusion surprisingly potent
Date:6/28/2011

subject's brain automatically adjusts. If the subject is then shown a stationary object, it will appear to him as though it is moving in the opposite direction of the background motion. In recordings from a motion center in the brain called cortical area MT, the researchers found neurons that, following a brief exposure to motion, respond to stationary objects as if they are actually moving. It is these neurons that the researchers think are responsible for the illusory motion of stationary objects that people see during the Motion Aftereffect.

This discovery reveals that the Motion Aftereffect illusion is not just a compelling visual oddity: It is caused by neural processes that happen essentially every time we see moving objects. The next phase of the group's study will attempt to find out whether this rapid motion adaptation serves a beneficial purpose in other words, does this rapid adaptation actually improve your ability to estimate the speed and direction of relevant moving objects, such as a baseball flying toward you.


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Contact: Alan Blank
alan.blank@rochester.edu
585-275-2671
University of Rochester
Source:Eurekalert

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