Measuring the Breathing Light Illusion by means of induced simultaneous contrast

Simone Gori, Tiziano Agostini, Enrico Giora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By blurring the margins of a surface, both its brightness and the perceived contrast against a superimposed figure with sharp boundaries increase. Also, if one approaches a blurred white spot on a grey background, this spot will appear wider and brighter: this phenomenon is known as the Breathing Light Illusion (BLI) (Gori and Stubbs, 2006 Perception 35 1573-1577). We studied the increment of the achromatic contrast of a grey sharp-boundary disk when it was superimposed on the BLI. This augmentation of the perceived contrast in the dynamic presenta-tion of the BLI was significantly stronger than the effect that Agostini and Galmonte (2002a Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 9 264-269) obtained in static presentation. Our study leads to an indirect quantification of the BLI. Two control experiments showed that the increment of the achromatic contrast depends on the blurred spot and is independent of the dynamic increment in angular size. These results argue for a causal relationship between the increase in brightness due to the BLI and the darkening of the superimposed disk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sensory Systems


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