Illusions as a tool to study the coding of pointing movements

D. D J De Grave*, Eli Brenner, J. B J Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Pictorial illusions bias our judgments about certain visual attributes. Such illusions are therefore only expected to influence a task if these attributes are used to perform the task. When pointing to a position, different visual attributes could be used to guide the hand: direction and distance (or length) of the required displacement (vector coding) or the final position (position coding). In this study we used the Brentano illusion (an illusion of length) to determine which attributes are used in pointing. Several conditions were tested in which the visibility of the hand and the stimulus were varied. The illusion influenced movements between two points along the shaft of the figure, but not movements perpendicular to the shaft. When the hand and/or target were invisible during the movement, the influence of the illusion increased. Pointing movements under different visual conditions were based on different relative contributions of position and vector coding. The contribution of vector coding was always rather modest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Action
  • Coding
  • Human
  • Illusion
  • Perception


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