Chapter 13 The visual phantom illusion: a perceptual product of surface completion depending on brightness and contrast

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Jiro Gyoba, Kenzo Sakurai

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    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The visual phantom illusion was first discovered by Rosenbach in 1902 and named 'moving phantoms' by Tynan and Sekuler in 1975 because of its strong dependence on motion. It was later revealed that phantoms can be generated by flickering the grating (flickering phantoms) or by low-luminance stationary gratings under dark adaptation (stationary phantoms). Although phantoms are much more visible at scotopic or mesopic adaptation levels (scotopic phantoms) than at photopic levels, we proposed a new phantom illusion which is fully visible in photopic vision (photopic phantoms). In 2001, we revealed that the visual phantom illusion is a higher-order perceptual construct or a Gestalt, which depends on the mechanism of perceptual transparency. Perceptual transparency is known as a perceptual product based upon brightness and contrast. We furthermore manifested the shared mechanisms between visual phantoms and neon color spreading or between visual phantoms and the Petter effect. In our recent study, the visual phantom illusion can also be seen with a stimulus of contrast-modulated gratings. We assume that this effect also depends on perceptual transparency induced by contrast modulation. Moreover, we found that the Craik-O'Brien-Cornsweet effect and other brightness illusions can generate the visual phantom illusion. In any case, we explain the visual phantom illusion in terms of surface completion, which is given by perceptual transparency.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)247-262
    Number of pages16
    JournalProgress in Brain Research
    Issue numberSUPPL. A
    Publication statusPublished - 2006 Sep 28


    • grating induction
    • illusion
    • neon color spreading
    • perceptual transparency
    • surface completion
    • visual phantoms

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)


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