Visual Entrainment at 10 Hz Causes Periodic Modulation of the Flash Lag Illusion.

S Chota, R VanRullen

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It has long been debated whether visual processing is, at least partially, a discrete process. Although vision appears to be a continuous stream of sensory information, sophisticated experiments reveal periodic modulations of perception and behavior. Previous work has demonstrated that the phase of endogenous neural oscillations in the 10 Hz range predicts the “lag” of the flash lag effect, a temporal visual illusion in which a static object is perceived to be lagging in time behind a moving object. Consequently, it has been proposed that the flash lag illusion could be a manifestation of a periodic, discrete sampling mechanism in the visual system. In this experiment we set out to causally test this hypothesis by entraining the visual system to a periodic 10 Hz stimulus and probing the flash lag effect (FLE) at different time points during entrainment. We hypothesized that the perceived FLE would be modulated over time, at the same frequency as the entrainer (10 Hz). A frequency analysis of the average FLE time-course indeed reveals a significant peak at 10 Hz as well as a strong phase consistency between subjects (N = 25). Our findings provide causal evidence for fluctuations in temporal perception and indicate an involvement of occipital alpha oscillations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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