Segmentation decreases the magnitude of the tilt illusion

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In the tilt illusion, the perceived orientation of a target grating depends strongly on the orientation of a surround. When the orientations of the center and surround gratings differ by a small angle, the center grating appears to tilt away from the surround orientation (repulsion), whereas for a large difference in angle, the center appears to tilt toward the surround orientation (attraction). In order to understand how segmentation/perceptual grouping of the center and surround affect the magnitude of the tilt illusion, we conducted three psychophysical experiments in which we measured observers' perception of center orientation as a function of center-surround relative contrast, relative disparity depth, and geometric features such as occlusion and collinearity. All of these manipulations affected the strength of perceived orientation bias in the center. Our results suggest that if stronger segmentation/perceptual grouping is induced between the center and surround, the tilt repulsion bias decreases/increases. A grouping-dependent tilt illusion plays an important role in visual search and detection by enhancing the sensitivity of our visual system to feature discrepancies, especially in relatively homogenous environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2013


  • Human psychophysics
  • Perceptual grouping
  • Segmentation
  • Tilt illusion


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