The Continuous Wagon Wheel Illusion and the ‘When’ Pathway of the Right Parietal Lobe: A Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study
VanRullen R, Pascual-Leone A, Battelli L; PLoS ONE 3(8): e2911. August 6, 2008.
A continuous periodic motion stimulus can sometimes be perceived moving in the wrong direction. These illusory reversals have been taken as evidence that part of the motion perception system samples its inputs as a series of discrete snapshots –although other explanations of the phenomenon have been proposed, that rely on the spurious activation of low-level motion detectors in early visual areas. We have hypothesized that the right inferior parietal lobe (‘when’ pathway) plays a critical role in timing perceptual events relative to one another, and thus we examined the role of the right parietal lobe in the generation of this “continuous Wagon Wheel Illusion” (c-WWI). Consistent with our hypothesis, we found that the illusion was effectively weakened following disruption of right, but not left, parietal regions by low frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (1 Hz, 10 min). These results were independent of whether the motion stimulus was shown in the left or the right visual field. Thus, the c-WWI appears to depend on higher-order attentional mechanisms that are supported by the ‘when’ pathway of the right parietal lobe.
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