Visual illusions affect both movement planning and on-line control: A multiple cue position on bias and goal-directed action Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Over the last decade, there has been an interest in the impact of visual illusions on the control of action. Much of this work has been motivated by Milner and Goodale's two visual system model of visual processing. This model is based on a hypothesized dissociation between cognitive judgments and the visual control of action. It holds that action is immune to the visual context that provides the basis for the illusion-induced bias associated with cognitive judgments. Recently, Glover has challenged this position and has suggested that movement planning, but not movement execution is susceptible to visual illusions. Research from our lab is inconsistent with both models of visual-motor processing. With respect to the planning and control model, kinematic evidence shows that the impact of an illusion on manual aiming increases as the limb approaches the target. For the Ebbinghaus illusion, this involved a decrease in the time after peak velocity to accommodate the 'perceived' size of the target. For the Müller-Lyer illusion, the influence of the figure's tails increased from peak velocity to the end of the movement. Although our findings contradict a strong version of the two visual systems hypothesis, we did find dissociations between perception and action in another experiment. In this Müller-Lyer study, perceptual decisions were influenced by misjudgment of extent, while action was influenced by misjudgment of target position. Overall, our findings are consistent with the idea that it is often necessary to use visual context to make adjustments to ongoing movements.


  • Mendoza, Jocelyn
  • Hansen, Steve
  • Glazebrook, Cheryl M
  • Keetch, Katherine M
  • Elliott, Digby

publication date

  • October 2005