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Perceptual similarity and the neural correlates of geometrical illusions in human brain structure

Axelrod, V; Schwarzkopf, DS; Gilaie-Dotan, S; Rees, G; (2017) Perceptual similarity and the neural correlates of geometrical illusions in human brain structure. Scientific Reports , 7 , Article 39968. 10.1038/srep39968. Green open access

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Abstract

Geometrical visual illusions are an intriguing phenomenon, in which subjective perception consistently misjudges the objective, physical properties of the visual stimulus. Prominent theoretical proposals have been advanced attempting to find common mechanisms across illusions. But empirically testing the similarity between illusions has been notoriously difficult because illusions have very different visual appearances. Here we overcome this difficulty by capitalizing on the variability of the illusory magnitude across participants. Fifty-nine healthy volunteers participated in the study that included measurement of individual illusion magnitude and structural MRI scanning. We tested the Muller-Lyer, Ebbinghaus, Ponzo, and vertical-horizontal geometrical illusions as well as a non-geometrical, contrast illusion. We found some degree of similarity in behavioral judgments of all tested geometrical illusions, but not between geometrical illusions and non-geometrical, contrast illusion. The highest similarity was found between Ebbinghaus and Muller-Lyer geometrical illusions. Furthermore, the magnitude of all geometrical illusions, and particularly the Ebbinghaus and Muller-Lyer illusions, correlated with local gray matter density in the parahippocampal cortex, but not in other brain areas. Our findings suggest that visuospatial integration and scene construction processes might partly mediate individual differences in geometric illusory perception. Overall, these findings contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind geometrical illusions.

Type: Article
Title: Perceptual similarity and the neural correlates of geometrical illusions in human brain structure
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/srep39968
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/srep39968
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2017. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530684
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