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Attentional sampling of multiple wagon wheels

Macdonald, James S.P.; Macdonald, James S P; Cavanagh, Patrick; VanRullen, Rufin


James S.P. Macdonald

James Macdonald
Senior Lecturer in Psychology (Cognitive and Neuropsychology)

Patrick Cavanagh

Rufin VanRullen


Attending to a periodic motion stimulus can induce illusory reversals of the direction of motion. This continuous wagon wheel illusion (c-WWI) has been taken to reflect discrete sampling of motion information by visual attention. An alternative view is that it is caused by adaptation. Here, we attempt to discriminate between these two interpretations by asking participants to attend to multiple periodic motion stimuli: The discrete attentional sampling account, but not the adaptation account, predicts a decrease of c-WWI temporal-frequency tuning with set size (with a single periodic motion stimulus the c-WWI is tuned to a temporal frequency of 10 Hz). We presented one to four rotating gratings that occasionally reversed direction while participants counted reversals. We considered reversal overestimations as manifestations of the c-WWI and determined the temporal-frequency tuning of the illusion for each set size. Optimal temporal frequency decreased with increasing set size. This outcome favors the discrete attentional sampling interpretation of the c-WWI, with a sampling rate for each individual stimulus dependent on the number of stimuli attended. © 2013 Psychonomic Society, Inc.


Macdonald, J. S., Macdonald, J. S. P., Cavanagh, P., & VanRullen, R. (2014). Attentional sampling of multiple wagon wheels. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 76(1), 64-72.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 7, 2013
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2013
Publication Date Feb 12, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2019
Journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Print ISSN 1943-3921
Electronic ISSN 1943-393X
Publisher Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 76
Issue 1
Pages 64-72
Public URL
Publisher URL