The extraordinarily rapid disappearance of entoptic images.
It has been known for more than 40 years that images fade from perception when they are kept at the same position on the retina by abrogating eye movements. Although aspects of this phenomenon were described earlier, the use of close-fitting contact lenses in the 1950s made possible a series of detailed observations on eye movements and visual continuity. In the intervening decades, many investigators have studied the role of image motion on visual perception. Although several controversies remain, it is clear that images deteriorate and in some cases disappear following stabilization; eye movements are, therefore, essential to sustained exoptic vision. The time course of image degradation has generally been reported to be a few seconds to a minute or more, depending upon the conditions. Here we show that images of entoptic vascular shadows can disappear in less than 80 msec. The rapid vanishing of these images implies an active mechanism of image erasure and creation as the basis of normal visual processing.
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