A Caltech Library Service

The Continuous Wagon Wheel Illusion Is Associated with Changes in Electroencephalogram Power at ~13 Hz

VanRullen, Rufin and Reddy, Leila and Koch, Christof (2006) The Continuous Wagon Wheel Illusion Is Associated with Changes in Electroencephalogram Power at ~13 Hz. Journal of Neuroscience, 26 (2). pp. 502-507. ISSN 0270-6474. PMCID PMC6674399. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4654-05.2006.

PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Continuously moving objects sometimes appear to spontaneously reverse their motion direction. The mechanisms underlying this bistable phenomenon (the “continuous wagon wheel illusion”) are heavily debated, but one interpretation suggests that motion information is perceived in discrete episodes at a rate between 10 and 15 Hz. Here, we asked observers to report the perceived direction of a continuously rotating wheel while 32-channel electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. We then separated periods of perceived true from illusory (reversed) motion and compared the EEG power spectrum under these two perceptually distinct yet physically identical conditions. The only reliable difference was observed ∼13 Hz over centroparietal electrodes, independent of the temporal frequency of the wheel. Thus, it is likely to reflect internal processes rather than purely stimulus-driven activity. EEG power (13 Hz) decreased before the onset of illusory motion and increased before transitions back to real motion. Using this relationship, it was possible to predict above chance, on a trial-by-trial basis, the direction of the upcoming perceptual transition. These data are compatible with the idea that motion perception occurs in snapshots <100 ms in duration.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle CentralArticle
VanRullen, Rufin0000-0002-3611-7716
Koch, Christof0000-0001-6482-8067
Additional Information:© 2006 Society for Neuroscience. Received August 23, 2005. Revision received October 31, 2005. Accepted November 17, 2005. This work was supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the National Science Foundation–Engineering Research Center. We thank the two anonymous referees for constructive comments on this manuscript.
Group:Koch Laboratory (KLAB)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)UNSPECIFIED
Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering, CaltechUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:consciousness; bistable percepts; motion; human; illusion; EEG; electroencephalogram
Issue or Number:2
PubMed Central ID:PMC6674399
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130816-103235552
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:40538
Deposited By: KLAB Import
Deposited On:12 Jan 2008 01:47
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:49

Repository Staff Only: item control page