We report a novel class of visual illusion we term motion pareidolia, in which sequential presentations of random textures elicit vivid percepts of global apparent motion. In a series of behavioral experiments, we presented naive observers with sequences of random pixel arrays refreshing at 2.5 Hz. When these random frames were preceded by a real apparent motion prime (such as sine gratings shifting up and down), 76% of observers reported the primed apparent motion to continue for at least 5 subsequent random frames, and in 27% of trials the percept continued indefinitely. Motion pareidolia can be triggered in seconds, and the illusion is so vivid that naive observers cannot distinguish it from real apparent motion. Trained observers can manipulate the direction of perceived motion by volition, subject to certain constraints based on boundary conditions. We rule out eye-movement and adaptation-based accounts of this phenomenon, and instead propose a mechanism of selective visual attention with a confirmation bias. Finally we discuss potential applications of this illusion in motion perception research.
If you plan on attending the MBC IGERT Graduate Training dinner on Monday, October 20, please remember to RSVP by Tuesday, Oct. 14 to firstname.lastname@example.org
The seminar will be held in Sloan Hall, Math Bldg 380, Room 380-C, lower level courtyard side, at 5:15pm followed by dinner in the courtyard outside of Jordan Hall, Bldg 420, Room 050.