Lightness depends on immediately prior experience

Research paper by Vidal Annan, Alan Gilchrist

Indexed on: 01 Aug '04Published on: 01 Aug '04Published in: Perception & psychophysics


The lightness hangover illusion is an unusually robust, long-lasting, prior-experience-based lightness effect. The effect occurs in the Mondrian world, a miniature chamber with interior walls covered with dark gray to black patches. The lightest patch in this scene, physically dark gray, looks white. When real whites and light grays are added to the scene, all the patches darken, but at an unusually slow rate. For several seconds, the white patches look self-luminous and the other patches continue to look very light. The luminosity fades and the other patches darken only after 2 min. We tested three possible explanations for this illusion: retinal adaptation, lightness persistence, and anchor persistence. The results clearly support anchor persistence, which is caused by the presence of steady patches, surfaces that retain their luminance values across scenes. The data also show that the size of the illusion varies directly with the number of these steady patches.