Connecting the Dots: Object Connectedness Deceives Perception but Not Movement Planning Academic Article uri icon


  • The perceptual system parses complex scenes into discrete objects. Parsing is also required for planning visually guided movements when more than one potential target is present. To examine whether visual perception and motor planning use the same or different parsing strategies, we used the connectedness illusion, in which observers typically report seeing fewer targets if pairs of targets are connected by short lines. We found that despite this illusion, when observers are asked to make speeded reaches toward targets in such displays, their reaches are unaffected by the presence of the connecting lines. Instead, their movement plans, as revealed by their movement trajectories, are influenced by the number of potential targets irrespective of whether connecting lines are present or not. This suggests that scene parsing for perception depends on mechanisms that are distinct from those that allow observers to plan rapid and efficient target-directed movements in situations with multiple potential targets.


  • Milne, JL
  • Chapman, CS
  • Gallivan, JP
  • Wood, DK
  • Culham, JC
  • Goodale, MA

publication date

  • 2013