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The Effects of Motion on Perceived Size and Other Perceptual Processes
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Optical illusions provide important insights into how we process visual information and illusions that alter the perceived size of an object are a valuable tool to study size perception. Studied for over a century, the classic size illusions have informed us about the complex mechanisms underlying how our brains derive the experience of how big or small objects appear to be. However, these illusions have all been static in nature and thus have ignored motion’s effect on size perception. This review discusses observations of novel dynamic versions of these illusions. Motion has a profound impact on the strength of the illusions tested, with added motion typically creating a stronger effect. Some dynamic versions of these images create an illusion twice as strong as the classic static version. Motion-related manipulations lead to uncertainty in the image size representation of the target, specifically due to added noise at the level of retinal input. We propose a hypothesis that each visual cue involved in size perception is reweighted based on the level of precision or uncertainty in their neural representation. Thus, more weight is given to contextual information when the stimulus and/or eye is moving. Biologically accurate models of size perception need to be able to account for the observed effects of motion.