The motion-induced contour revisited: Observations on 3-D structure and illusory contour formation in moving stimuli

Gennady Erlikhman, Mengzhu Fu, Michael D. Dodd, Gideon P. Caplovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The motion-induced contour (MIC) was first described by Victor Klymenko and Naomi Weisstein in a series of papers in the 1980s. The effect is created by rotating the outline of a tilted cube in depth. When one of the vertical edges is removed, an illusory contour can be seen in its place. In four experiments, we explored which stimulus features influence perceived illusory contour strength. Participants provided subjective ratings of illusory contour strength as a function of orientation of the stimulus, separation between inducing edges, and the length of inducing edges. We found that the angle of tilt of the object in depth had the largest impact on perceived illusory contour strength with tilt angles of 20° and 30° producing the strongest percepts. Tilt angle is an unexplored feature of structure-from-motion displays. In addition, we found that once the depth structure of the object was extracted, other features of the display, such as the distance spanned by the illusory contour, could also influence its strength, similar to the notion of support ratio for 2-D illusory contours. Illusory contour strength was better predicted by the length of the contour in 3-D rather than in 2-D, suggesting that MICs are constructed by a 3-D process that takes as input initially recovered contour orientation and position information in depth and only then forms interpolations between them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Illusory contour
  • Kinetic depth effect
  • Motion-induced contour
  • Stereokinetic effect
  • Structure from motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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