The functional subdivision of the visual brain: Is there a real illusion effect on action? A multi-lab replication study

Karl K. Kopiske, Nicola Bruno, Constanze Hesse, Thomas Schenk, Volker H. Franz

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72 Citations (Scopus)
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It has often been suggested that visual illusions affect perception but not actions such as grasping, as predicted by the “two-visual-systems” hypothesis of Milner and Goodale (1995, The Visual Brain in Action, MIT press). However, at least for the Ebbinghaus illusion, relevant studies seem to reveal a consistent illusion effect on grasping (Franz & Gegenfurtner, 2008. Grasping visual illusions: consistent data and no dissociation. Cognitive Neuropsychology). Two interpretations are possible: either grasping is not immune to illusions (arguing against dissociable processing mechanisms for vision-for-perception and vision-for-action), or some other factors modulate grasping in ways that mimic a vision-for perception effect in actions. It has been suggested that one such factor may be obstacle avoidance (Haffenden Schiff & Goodale, 2001. The dissociation between perception and action in the Ebbinghaus illusion: nonillusory effects of pictorial cues on grasp. Current Biology, 11, 177–181). In four different labs (total N = 144), we conducted an exact replication of previous studies suggesting obstacle avoidance mechanisms, implementing conditions that tested grasping as well as multiple perceptual tasks. This replication was supplemented by additional conditions to obtain more conclusive results. Our results confirm that grasping is affected by the Ebbinghaus illusion and demonstrate that this effect cannot be explained by obstacle avoidance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-152
Number of pages23
Early online date6 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank Brian Roberts and Mike Harris for responding to our questions regarding their paper; Zoltan Dienes for advice on Bayes factors; Denise Fischer, Melanie Römer, Ioana Stanciu, Aleksandra Romanczuk, Stefano Uccelli, Nuria Martos Sánchez, and Rosa María Beño Ruiz de la Sierra for help collecting data; Eva Viviani for managing data collection in Parma. We thank Maurizio Gentilucci for letting us use his lab, and the Centro Intradipartimentale Mente e Cervello (CIMeC), University of Trento, and especially Francesco Pavani for lending us his motion tracking equipment. We thank Rachel Foster for proofreading. KKK was supported by a Ph.D. scholarship as part of a grant to VHF within the International Graduate Research Training Group on Cross-Modal Interaction in Natural and Artificial Cognitive Systems (CINACS; DFG IKG-1247) and TS by a grant (DFG – SCHE 735/3-1); both from the German Research Council.


  • action perception
  • visual processing
  • illusions
  • grasping
  • manual size estimation


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