Spatiotemporal analysis of brightness induction

Barbara Blakeslee, Mark E. McCourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Brightness induction refers to a class of visual illusions in which the perceived intensity of a region of space is influenced by the luminance of surrounding regions. These illusions are significant because they provide insight into the neural organization of the visual system. A novel quadrature-phase motion cancelation technique was developed to measure the magnitude of the grating induction brightness illusion across a wide range of spatial frequencies, temporal frequencies and test field heights. Canceling contrast is greatest at low frequencies and declines with increasing frequency in both dimensions, and with increasing test field height. Canceling contrast scales as the product of inducing grating spatial frequency and test field height (the number of inducing grating cycles per test field height). When plotted using a spatial axis which indexes this product, the spatiotemporal induction surfaces for four test field heights can be described as four partially overlapping sections of a single larger surface. These properties of brightness induction are explained in the context of multiscale spatial filtering. The present study is the first to measure the magnitude of grating induction as a function of temporal frequency. Taken in conjunction with several other studies (Blakeslee & McCourt, 2008; Magnussen & Glad, 1975; Robinson & de Sa, 2008) the results of this study illustrate that at least one form of brightness induction is very much faster than that reported by DeValois, Webster, DeValois, and Lingelbach (1986) and Rossi and Paradiso (1996), and are inconsistent with the proposition that brightness induction results from a slow " filling in" process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1872-1879
Number of pages8
JournalVision research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Brightness induction
  • Cancelation
  • Filling-in
  • Quadrature motion
  • Spatial frequency
  • Temporal frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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