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The effect of eye movements and blinks on afterimage appearance and duration

Powell, Georgina ORCID:, Sumner, Petroc ORCID: and Bompas, Aline ORCID: 2015. The effect of eye movements and blinks on afterimage appearance and duration. Journal of Vision 15 (3) , pp. 1-15. 10.1167/15.3.20

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The question of whether eye movements influence afterimage perception has been asked since the 18th century, and yet there is surprisingly little consensus on how robust these effects are and why they occur. The number of historical theories aiming to explain the effects are more numerous than clear experimental demonstrations of such effects. We provide a clearer characterization of when eye movements and blinks do or do not affect afterimages with the aim to distinguish between historical theories and integrate them with a modern understanding of perception. We found neither saccades nor pursuit reduced strong afterimage duration, and blinks actually increased afterimage duration when tested in the light. However, for weak afterimages, we found saccades reduced duration, and blinks and pursuit eye movements did not. One interpretation of these results is that saccades diminish afterimage perception because they cause the afterimage to move unlike a real object. Furthermore, because saccades affect weak afterimages but not strong ones, we suggest that their effect is modulated by the ambiguity of the afterimage signal.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
ISSN: 1534-7362
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 08 May 2023 13:14

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