Is simple reaction time affected by visual illusions?

Irene Sperandio, Silvia Savazzi, Carlo Alberto Marzi

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18 Citations (Scopus)


A number of studies have shown that while perceptual judgment is deceived by pictorial illusions, grasping and other kinds of motor behaviour are not. This is in keeping with the existence of two different cortical systems: a ventral stream subserving vision-for-perception and a dorsal stream subserving vision-for-action. The former is sensitive to illusions, the latter is not. Given this dissociation of functions, one wonders whether simple visuomotor reaction time (RT) follows the ventral or the dorsal rule in perceiving illusory figures. Answering this question might contribute to a better understanding of the different functions of the two systems. We carried out two experiments, one with the Ponzo and the other with the Ebbinghaus-Titchener illusion and found that RT is sensitive to both illusions with faster responses to stimuli appearing illusorily bigger than the others. These results show that motor action is subserved by the ventral system when that action directly reports the presence or onset of a target rather than when that action requires a spatial adjustment that reflects the physical features of the target.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-350
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

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