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Ponzo Illusion Visual Ilusion: Ponzo Illusion

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Human visual system perceive information in retinal image as three dimensions when depth cues are available. Depth cues can be divided into three main types, namely oculomotor, monocular and binocular cues. Oculomotor cues happen due to inward movements of the eyes (convergence) when looking at close objects and shape alteration of lens (accommodation) due to different distances when people focusing on objects. Monocular cues work with one eye while binocular cues based on two eyes. Based on Gregory (1963), Distortion of visual space due to inappropriate constancy scaling. Constancy scaling is produced due to size constancy mechanism, which is the tendency for objects to appear much the same size over a wide range of distance in spite of

Ponzo Illusion

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the changes of the retinal images associated with distance of the object (Gregory, 1963). He also proposed that the illusions due to misplaced constancy scaling can be set directly by depth features of flat figures (Gregory, 1963). Picture above contains visual illusion that is known as Ponzo (or rail road track) illusion. Ponzo illusion can be explained by depth cue of linear perspective. Linear perspective is the perceptual convergence of lines that are parallel in the scene as distance increases (Goldstein, 2002, p. 231). As we can see, the parallel lines of road become converge as distance increases. The assumption that converging lines (the road lines) are parallel, leading to the conclusion that the ''more distant'' line (top line) is larger and the phenomenon of local context leads to visual ''averaging'', such that the true length of the line near the converging ends of the context lines is misjudged (Enns, 2004, p. 263). Jackson and Shaw (2000) investigated the effect of the Ponzo visual illusion on the control of hand action, specifically, the scaling of grip force and grip aperture during comprehension movements. They found that maximum grip force, when measured directly using a compression load cell, was significantly influenced by the Ponzo visual illusion, with greater grip force being applied when target objects were presented against the converging lines of the illusion when be compared with the diverging lines (Jackson & Shaw, 2000). Furthermore, the picture above also contains another pictorial cues, not just the linear perspective depth cue. The farther tree has higher base than nearer tree. This cue is called as relative height, in which objects with bases that higher in field of view appear farther away (Goldstein, 2002, p. 228). In contrast, the clouds that appear lower in horizon are seen as being farther away. The white bars on the road are equally spaced in the picture, but as the distance increases, the white bars appear to be more closely packed. This illusion is called as texture

Ponzo Illusion

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gradient cue, provides depth of information that is located on the surface on which objects rest (Goldstein, 2002, p. 231). As a conclusion, misperception of depth makes human perceive two equal lines appear different when when two converging context lines be put together in a picture. We experience depth cues everyday which make us to get used and experiencing the visual illusion becomes automatic.

Ponzo Illusion References

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Enns, J. T. (2004). Knowing one's place in the world. In James T. Enns (Eds.), The thinking eye, the seeing brain: Explorations in visual cognition. (pp. 263-264). New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Goldstein, E. B. (2002). Sensation and Perception. CA: Wadsworth. Gregory, R.L. (1963). Distortion of visual space as inappropriate constancy scaling. Nature. 199. 678-680. Jackson, S. R. & Shaw, A. (2000). The Ponzo illusion affects grip-force but not grip-aperture scaling during prehension movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 26(1). 418-423. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.26.1.418