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McCollough effect


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A visual illusion that is seen by a viewer who stares for half a minute or more at two differently oriented and differently coloured grating patterns, such as vertical red and black stripes and horizontal green and black stripes, shifting attention back and forth between the two, and then looks at a figure containing a grating of vertical black and white stripes and a grating of horizontal black and white stripes. The white areas of the black and white gratings appear tinged with the complementary colours of the corresponding (vertical or horizontal) coloured gratings, so that the vertical white stripes appear pale green and the horizontal white stripes pink. The fact that the illusory colours depend on the particular black and white grating patterns shows that they cannot be explained by depletion of pigment or any other gross retinal process. See also contingent aftereffect. [Named after the US psychologist Celeste F(aye) McCollough (born 1926) who first reported the illusion in the journal Science in 1965]

Subjects: Psychology.


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