The Disappearing Faces Illusion

Stuart Anstis
University of California, San Diego, USA

In the movie the test stimuli were two transparently superimposed, low-contrast greyscale photos. We used one photo of Albert Einstein and one of Marilyn Monroe. Two identical Einstein+Marilyn photos were set up side by side with a fixation point between them; each looked like a confused jumble, and neither face could be seen clearly. The adapting stimuli were high-contrast flickering versions of the two single components: Einstein on the left and Marilyn on the right. Result: Adaptation made Einstein fade out subjectively from the left- hand Einstein+Marilyn, which now looked like Marilyn. Conversely, Marilyn subjectively faded out from the Einstein+Marilyn on the right, which now looked like Einstein. This adaptation selectively picked out (and degraded) the test photo with which it was congruent, and had little effect on the other, superimposed but noncongruent test photo.

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