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Spatial Frequency Modulates the Degree of Illusory Second Flash Perception

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For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

When a brief single flash is presented simultaneously with two brief beeps, the number of presented flashes is often perceived as two. This phenomenon is referred to as the fission illusion. Several effects related to the fission illusion have been investigated using both psychophysical and neurophysiological methods. The present study examined the effects of spatial frequency on the fission illusion. At a low spatial frequency, transient channels respond preferably; conversely, sustained channels respond preferably at a high spatial frequency. Sustained channels differ in temporal properties from transient channels and are characterized by poor temporal resolution and slow-onset responses. In our previous study, visual stimuli presented at a slow processing speed were not conducive to the fission illusion. Therefore, we hypothesized that the fission illusion would not be difficult to observe when using high spatial frequencies. The results indicated that the degree of the perceived illusory second flash was reduced when spatial frequency was high as compared to when it was is low. Furthermore, according to signal detection theory, this difference between high and low spatial frequencies was not attributed to participants’ response biases. Therefore, the fission illusion likely will not occur in conditions of slow processing speed and long response latencies in sustained channels, which respond preferably to high spatial frequency stimuli. Overall, the results indicated that the fission illusion was affected by temporal characteristics of lower-order sensory processing stages.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Arts & Letters, Tohoku University, Kawauchi 27-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8576, Japan


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