The Müller-Lyer illusion explained by the statistics of image-source relationships.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The Müller-Lyer effect, the apparent difference in the length of a line as the result of its adornment with arrowheads or arrow tails, is the best known and most controversial of the classical geometrical illusions. By sampling a range-image database of natural scenes, we show that the perceptual effects elicited by the Müller-Lyer stimulus and its major variants are correctly predicted by the probability distributions of the possible physical sources underlying the relevant retinal images. These results support the conclusion that the Müller-Lyer illusion is a manifestation of the probabilistic strategy of visual processing that has evolved to contend with the uncertain provenance of retinal stimuli.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Howe, CQ; Purves, D

Published Date

  • January 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 102 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 1234 - 1239

PubMed ID

  • 15657142

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC544622

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.0409314102


  • eng