Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Baby Lab

The flash grab effect.

When an object moves back and forth, its trajectory appears significantly shorter than it actually is. The object appears to stop and reverse well before its actual reversal point, as if there is some averaging of location within a window of about 100 ms (Sinico et al., 2009). Surprisingly, if a bar is flashed at the phys- ical end point of the trajectory, right on top of the object, just as it reverses direction, the flash is also shifted – grabbed by the object – and is seen at the perceived endpoint of the trajectory rather than the physical endpoint. This can shift the perceived location of the flash by as much as 2 or 3 times its physical size and by up to several degrees of visual angle. We first show that the position shift of the flash is generated by the trajectory shortening, as the same shift is seen with or without the flash. The flash itself is only grabbed if it is presented within a small spatiotemporal attraction zone around the physical end point of the trajectory. Any flash falling in that zone is pulled toward the perceived endpoint. The effect scales linearly with speed, up to a maximum, and is independent of the contrast of the moving stimulus once it is above 5%. Finally, we demonstrate that this position shift requires attention. These results reveal a new ‘‘flash grab’’ effect in the family of motion-induced position shifts. Although it most resembles the flash drag effect, it differs from this in the following ways: (1) it has a different temporal profile, (2) it requires attention, (3) it is about 10 times larger.