Visual-proprioceptive mismatch and the Taylor illusion

Angus I. G. Ramsay, David P. Carey, Stephen R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


When a participant moves a hand-held target in complete darkness after an afterimage of that target has been obtained, an illusory increase (with movements away from the participant) or decrease (with movements towards the participant) in the apparent size of the afterimage is reported (the Taylor illusion, reported first in Taylor, J Exp Psychol 29: 1941). Unlike typical Emmert's Law demonstrations, the Taylor illusion shows that a motor-related signal can be used to specify distance for the computation of real size. A study by Carey and Allan (Exp Brain Res 110: 1996) found that the Taylor illusion did not occur in a condition where an afterimage of one hand was obtained while the other hand performed a movement away from the participant from directly behind the first. It was proposed that, for the illusion to manifest itself, proprioceptive and visual information must be in strict "register" when the afterimage is obtained. To evaluate this hypothesis, 14 participants performed "towards" and "away" movements after obtaining afterimages of hand-held cards. Participants wore either plain lenses or prism lenses during the trials, the latter of which displaced visual stimuli 10 to the left. No significant difference was found between the two lens conditions in terms of the effect on the perception of the Taylor illusion. It was concluded that the illusory size distortions may depend on register of visual and proprioceptive position in terms of depth, rather than in the picture plane. Several suggestions for future studies of the Taylor illusion are proposed, and limitations of size judgements of afterimages are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • proprioception
  • illusion
  • size constancy
  • Emmert's Law
  • eye-movements
  • size
  • hand
  • position
  • afterimages
  • darkness
  • vision
  • touch


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