A motion aftereffect from visual imagery of motion

Jonathan Winawer, Alexander C. Huk, Lera Boroditsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental imagery is thought to share properties with perception. To what extent does the process of imagining a scene share neural circuits and computational mechanisms with actually perceiving the same scene? Here, we investigated whether mental imagery of motion in a particular direction recruits neural circuits tuned to the same direction of perceptual motion. To address this question we made use of a visual illusion, the motion aftereffect. We found that following prolonged imagery of motion in one direction, people are more likely to perceive real motion test probes as moving in the direction opposite to the direction of motion imagery. The transfer of adaptation from imagined to perceived motion provides evidence that motion imagery and motion perception recruit shared direction-selective neural circuitry. Even in the absence of any visual stimuli, people can selectively recruit specific low-level sensory neurons through mental imagery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Imagery
  • Motion
  • Perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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