Perceptual Experience of Visual Motion Activates hMT plus Independently From the Physical Reality: fMRI Insights From the Looming Pinna Figure

U. Budnik*, C. Hindi-Attar, K. Hamburger, B. Pinna, J. Hennig, Oliver Speck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The human motion processing area, hMT+, has been labeled the critical neural area for processing of real and illusory visual motion in radial 2D patterns. However, the activation in hMT+ during perception of illusory rotation in the looming double-circular Pinna Figure (PF) generated in 3D space has not been observed yet. To do so, an optic-flow like motion of rings (looming) in PF was generated on a computer screen. A psychophysically precise nulling procedure allowed quantifying the individual amount of the perceived illusory rotation in PF (PI) for each participant. The interpolation of the individual illusory motion parameters created a subjectively non-rotating PF and a physically rotating control stimulus of identical rotary strength as the PI. The physically rotating control was a double-circular figure which diverged from PF only in its arrangement of luminance gradients. In a 3-Tesla scanner, participants were presented with a random order of rotating and non-rotating figures (illusory, real, no rotation, and nulled PI). Both types, illusory and real rotation, when equal in perceptual strength for the observer, were found to be processed by hMT+.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1221
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • equalized perceptual strength
  • nulling procedure
  • subjective illusory rotation
  • real rotation
  • radial 2D figure
  • double-circular figure
  • luminance gradients
  • Pinna-Figure (PF)
  • Pinna Illusion (PI)
  • looming
  • 3D
  • motion parameter
  • motion interpolation
  • hMT
  • functional brain imaging
  • fMRI 3T

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