Visual Evoked Potentials to Illusory Reversals of the Necker Cube

B. F. O'Donnell*, T. Hendler, N. K. Squires

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Sensory adaptation and cognitive evaluation have been proposed as explanations of illusory figure reversals. The effect of variations in the perceived orientation of a Necker cube on visual evoked potentials (VEPs) was studied to test these two hypotheses. VEPs associated with perceptual reversals and non‐reversals of a Necker cube were compared with VEPs elicited by a sequence of physically varying cubical figures. Amplitude differences in the early VEP components consistent with adaptation effects were not detected. Both types of reversals were associated with a late positive component (400–700 ms), which was smaller in amplitude in the illusory condition. The late positivity to illusory reversals was also distinguished by a broad (200–700 ms) positive component over frontal and central recording sites which was absent over Oz. These findings suggest that illusory reversals are more difficult to discriminate than physical reversals, and require additional cognitive resources for evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • P3
  • Reversing figures
  • Visual evoked potentials


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