[visionlist] immunity from illusions (particularly visual illusions)

Dr. Katherine Moore moorek at arcadia.edu
Sat Feb 11 22:08:06 -05 2017

Dear vision experts,

I was hoping some of you could help me out with something that made me
curious all of last semester. Last semester was about the fifth time I've
taught Sensation & Perception. Even though my classes are small (less than
25 students), each time I teach this course I have a student or two who is
unusual in some sensory way -- just one working eye, synesthesia, no sense
of smell, blind, prosopagnosia, etc.

This past semester I had two students who did not experience illusions (out
of just 10 students!) One of them truly did not experience any of the
illusions. Another did not experience the vast majority of them. We mostly
did visual illusions, but among the few auditory illusions we did, these
students didn't experience them either. I have no reason to think the
students were lying about it--they are very sincere people. And they both
had trouble with an assignment that required students to view some new
illusions, describe what they saw and what was really happening, and
explain the illusion. These two students didn't see what the rest of the
class saw, and only saw "what was really happening."

The illusions spanned the course, which is to say they touched upon many
different causes. For example, the Hermann grid variations, including the
"disappearing dots" one that went viral this summer/fall were affected, as
well as the color constancy and size constancy ones like the checkershadow
illusion, Ames room, etc.

What do you all know about this, like what the cause could be for this
immunity from illusions of many kinds, or individual variation in the
experience of illusions?


Katherine S Moore
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Arcadia University
450 S. Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038
Office: Boyer Hall room 128
Phone: (215) 517-2429
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