Moon illusion and spiral aftereffect: Illusions due to the loom-zoom system?


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Abstract

The moon illusion and the spiral aftereffect are illusions in which apparent size and apparent distance vary inversely. Because this relationship is opposite to that predicted by the static size/distance invariance hypothesis, the illusions have been called “paradoxical.” The present author explains these illusions as products of a loom-zoom system, a hypothetical visual subsystem that in its normal operation acts according to its structural constraint, the constancy axiom, to produce perceptions that satisfy the constraints of stimulation, the kinetic size/distance invariance hypothesis. When stimulated by its characteristic symmetrical expansion or contraction, the loom-zoom system produces the perception of a rigid object moving in depth. If this system is stimulated by a rotating spiral, a negative motion-aftereffect is produced when rotation ceases. If fixation is shifted to a fixed-sized disc, the aftereffect process alters perceived distance and the loom-zoom system alters perceived size such that the disc appears to expand and approach or to contract and recede, depending on the direction of rotation of the spiral. If the loom-zoom system is stimulated by a moon-terrain, the equidistance tendency produces a foreshortened perceived distance for the moon as an inverse function of elevation and acts in conjunction with the loom-zoom system to produce the increased perceived size of the moon. (66 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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