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    van Heusden, Elle Harris, Anthony M. Garrido, Marta I. and Hogendoorn, Hinze 2019. Predictive coding of visual motion in both monocular and binocular human visual processing. Journal of Vision, Vol. 19, Issue. 1, p. 3.

    Schneider, Keith A. 2018. The Flash-Lag, Fröhlich and Related Motion Illusions Are Natural Consequences of Discrete Sampling in the Visual System. Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, Issue. ,

    Hubbard, Timothy L. and Ruppel, Susan E. 2013. Displacement of location in illusory line motion. Psychological Research, Vol. 77, Issue. 3, p. 260.

    Müsseler, Jochen and Tiggelbeck, Jens 2013. The perceived onset position of a moving target: Effects of trial contexts are evoked by different attentional allocations. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 75, Issue. 2, p. 349.

    Weiß, Katharina Hilkenmeier, Frederic Scharlau, Ingrid and Akyürek, Elkan 2013. Attention and the Speed of Information Processing: Posterior Entry for Unattended Stimuli Instead of Prior Entry for Attended Stimuli. PLoS ONE, Vol. 8, Issue. 1, p. e54257.

    Priess, Heinz-Werner Scharlau, Ingrid Becker, Stefanie I. and Ansorge, Ulrich 2012. Spatial mislocalization as a consequence of sequential coding of stimuli. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 74, Issue. 2, p. 365.

    Hubbard, Timothy L. and Ruppel, Susan E. 2011. Effects of spatial cuing on the onset repulsion effect. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 73, Issue. 7, p. 2236.

  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: October 2010

19 - The Fröhlich effect: past and present

from Part IV - Spatial phenomena: forward shift effects


When observers are asked to localize the initial position of a moving target, they often indicate a position displaced in the direction of motion relative to the true onset position. In this review, the debate between Fröhlich, who discovered this phenomenon, and his contemporaries in the 1920s and 1930s is summarized. Striking misinterpretations of Fröhlich's findings and the anticipation of recent research on the flash-lag effect will be presented. In the second part, current accounts of the Fröhlich effect in terms of attention and metacontrast are evaluated. In the final section, reconciliation between research on the Fröhlich effect and recent reports of an error opposite the direction of motion (the onset repulsion effect) is offered.


When asked to localize a moving target entering a window, observers often indicate a position not adjacent to the edge of the window but a position displaced in the direction of motion (see Fig. 19.1(a)). The gap between the edge of a window and the initial perception of the moving target was first discovered by the Norwegian astronomer O. Pihl in 1894, but Fröhlich (1923) was the first to study the effect systematically. Therefore, the illusion has been named the “Fröhlich effect.” Fröhlich's explanation of the illusion in terms of “sensation time” was amply discussed in the 1930s (Fröhlich 1930, 1932; Rubin 1930; G. E. Müller 1931; Metzger 1932; Piéron 1935) but forgotten for the 60 years that followed.

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