Induced visual fading of complex images

Daniel J. Simons, Alejandro Lleras, Susana Martinez-Conde, David Slichter, Eamon Caddigan, Gabriel Nevarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Visual stimuli fade from awareness under retinal stabilization or careful fixation, a phenomenon documented by Troxler more than 200 years ago. Research on visual fading during normal visual fixation typically has been restricted to discrete, simple, low-contrast shapes presented peripherally against a uniform or textured background. In four experiments, we document a striking new visual fading effect in which entire photographs of scenes fade to a uniform luminance and hue during normal visual fixation. Critically, this "scene fading" can be induced almost instantaneously by some types of visual transients but not by others. These induced fading effects are sufficiently robust that they can be experienced by most observers in a single trial. Taken as a whole, the effects are inconsistent with simple contrast adaptation, gradual Troxler fading, or transient-induced fading. They are, however, consistent with the idea that small contrast decrements can induce fading of entire scenes. The methods provide a robust tool for the exploration of visual fading, and the results could have important implications for the role of filling-in and neural adaptation in our visual awareness of natural scenes and other complex stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1093-1101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 26 2006


  • Adaptation
  • Contrast
  • Scenes
  • Troxler fading
  • Visual fading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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