The Roles of Axes of Symmetry in Orientation Illusions

Document Type



Psychology (Scripps)

Publication Date



Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The lines of a surrounding figure can induce illusory distortion in the apparent orientation of an enclosed line. The axes of symmetry of the figure have been implicated in this distortion. A series of experiments showed generally that the effects are attributable to the axes of bilateral symmetry rather than to less restrictively defined axes of topological symmetry, although those axes may produce other illusory effects. Furthermore, the distortions affect the whole line rather than only parts of it. These results are consistent with interactions of the lines in the orientation rather than position domain. It is suggested that axes of symmetry may play an important role in pattern recognition.

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© 1982 Springer-Verlag

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