The “motion silencing” illusion results from global motion and crowding,J Vis, 5 (13).
Suchow and Alvarez (2011) recently devised a striking illusion, where objects changing in color, luminance, size, or shape appear to stop changing when they move. They refer to the illusion as “motion silencing of awareness to visual change.” Here we present evidence that the illusion results from two perceptual processes: global motion and crowding. We adapted Suchow and Alvarez’s stimulus to three concentric rings of dots, a central ring of “target dots” flanked on either side by similarly moving flanker dots. Subjects had to identify in which of two presentations the target dots were continuously changing (sinusoidally) in size, as distinct from the other interval in which size was constant. The results show: (a) Motion silencing depends on target speed, with a threshold around 0.2 rotations per second (corresponding to about 10 degrees /s linear motion). (b) Silencing depends on both target-flanker spacing and eccentricity, with critical spacing about half eccentricity, consistent with Bouma’s law. (c) The critical spacing was independent of stimulus size, again consistent with Bouma’s law. (d) Critical spacing depended strongly on contrast polarity. All results imply that the “motion silencing” illusion may result from crowding.