Paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences
  • Curran, W., Clifford, C.W.G. & Benton, C.P. (2009). The hierarchy of directional interactions in visual motion processing. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 276, 263-268.

    It is well known that context influences our perception of visual motion direction. For example, spatial and temporal context manipulations can be used to induce two well-known motion illusions: direction repulsion and the direction after-effect (DAE). Both result in inaccurate perception of direction when a moving pattern is either superimposed on (direction repulsion), or presented following adaptation to DAE, another pattern moving in a different direction. Remarkable similarities in tuning characteristics suggest that common processes underlie the two illusions. What is not clear, however, is whether the processes driving the two illusions are expressions of the same or different neural substrates. Here we report two experiments demonstrating that direction repulsion and the DAE are, in fact, expressions of different neural substrates. Our strategy was to use each of the illusions to create a distorted perceptual representation upon which the mechanisms generating the other illusion could potentially operate. We found that the processes mediating direction repulsion did indeed access the distorted perceptual representation induced by the DAE. Conversely, the DAE was unaffected by direction repulsion. Thus parallels in perceptual phenomenology do not necessarily imply common neural substrates. Our results also demonstrate that the neural processes driving the DAE occur at an earlier stage of motion processing than those underlying direction repulsion.