Brightness induction and the Café Wall illusion.

M. E. McCourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The Café Wall illusion is a distortion illusion in which the parallel lines of a chessboard-like figure consisting solely of parallel and perpendicular line elements appear to converge in alternating rows, creating a wedge distortion similar to that of the well-known Zöllner illusion. Gregory and Heard have formulated an explanation for the Café Wall illusion which relies upon the operation of a 'border-locking mechanism' in the visual system. The results of the present experiment suggest an alternative explanation in which the operation of brightness induction within the mortar regions of the Café Wall produces a series of 'twisted cords' or slanted line elements akin to those of the Fraser or Zöllner figures. A series of such 'twisted cords' is shown to be capable of itself to produce an illusory convergence like that of the Café Wall. Manipulations of the luminance of discrete regions in the mortar lines of the Café Wall, designed either to augment or cancel the effects of brightness induction in the production of these slanted line elements, are successful in enhancing or reducing, respectively, the wedge distortion of this visual illusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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