Multiple-Location Access in Vision: Evidence From Illusory Line Motion

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Four experiments with undergraduates used illusory line motion (ILM) to contrast Z. W. Pylyshyn's (1989) FINST theory of spatial indexing with predictions made by unitary attention models. Multiple-onset stimuli were able to cause ILM at disparate, noncontiguous spatial locations. Consistent with gradient explanations of ILM and with FINST theory predictions, varying line-drawing speed and the number of stimuli revealed a decrease in ILM and a capacity limitation, respectively. Modeling analyses suggested a limit in the number of locations (5–7) that could elicit the illusion. Requiring participants to report the locations of all stimuli exhibiting illusory motion in a specified direction suggested parallel access to between 2 and 5 display locations simultaneously. The results of all 4 experiments were predicted by FINST theory but not by a broad class of unitary attention hypotheses.

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