Spatial alignment and response hand in geometric and motion illusions

Lisa Scocchia, Michela Paroli, Natale A. Stucchi, Anna Sedda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Perception of visual illusions is susceptible to manipulation of their spatial properties. Further, illusions can sometimes affect visually guided actions, especially the movement planning phase. Remarkably, visual properties of objects related to actions, such as affordances, can prime more accurate perceptual judgements. In spite of the amount of knowledge available on affordances and on the influence of illusions on actions (or lack of thereof), virtually nothing is known about the reverse: the influence of action-related parameters on the perception of visual illusions. Here, we tested a hypothesis that the response mode (that can be linked to action-relevant features) can affect perception of the Poggendorff (geometric) and of the Vanishing Point (motion) illusion. We explored the role of hand dominance (right dominant versus left non-dominant hand) and its interaction with stimulus spatial alignment (i.e., congruency between visual stimulus and the hand used for responses). Seventeen right-handed participants performed our tasks with their right and left hands, and the stimuli were presented in regular and mirror-reversed views. It turned out that the regular version of the Poggendorff display generates a stronger illusion compared to the mirror version, and that participants are less accurate and show more variability when they use their left hand in responding to the Vanishing Point. In summary, our results show that there is a marginal effect of hand precision in motion related illusions, which is absent for geometrical illusions. In the latter, attentional anisometry seems to play a greater role in generating the illusory effect. Taken together, our findings suggest that changes in the response mode (here: manual action-related parameters) do not necessarily affect illusion perception. Therefore, although intuitively speaking there should be at least unidirectional effects of perception on action, and possible interactions between the two systems, this simple study still suggests their relative independence, except for the case when the less skilled (non-dominant) hand and arguably more deliberate responses are used.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1169
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Early online date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Attentional dominance
  • Hand actions
  • Hand dominance
  • Poggendorff illusion
  • Spatial alignment effect
  • Vanishing Point illusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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