There and back again: Revisiting the on-time effect

Alon Zivony, Dominique Lamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In apparent motion, static stimuli presented successively in shifted locations produce a subjective percept of continuous motion. Reducing stimulus exposure (or on-time) was shown to consistently increase the perceived velocity of apparent motion (Vision Research 29 (1989), 335-347), yet surprisingly little investigation has followed up on the discovery of this illusion. In five experiments, we delineate the boundary conditions of the on-time illusion in order to clarify its underlying mechanisms. Subjects viewed multi-item apparent-motion displays, in which at some point, on-time duration either increased or decreased. Objective velocity remained unchanged, yet participants had to judge whether they perceived the motion to become slower or faster. We observed the on-time illusion during both fast and slow apparent motion. The effect was not modulated by stimulus luminance, thus precluding an energy-summation account of the illusion. It generalized from speed perception to time perception in a temporal bisection task. The illusion was specific to apparent motion, as it did not occur with veridical motion. Finally, the illusion persisted when on-time and off-time were not confounded, that is, when off-time remained constant. These findings are discussed in the framework of current models of motion perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Issue numberPA
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • Apparent motion
  • Motion perception
  • Velocity perception
  • Visual illusion

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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