A definition for apparent movement is:

The perception of movement produced by stimuli that are stationary but are presented first at one position and then, at an appropriate time interval, presented at a different position.


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And apparent motion is defined as:

Motion can be detected even if there is no real motion


Flip Books

Now to my actual question: I know that those two forms of perception are very close; so what is the actual difference between the two? Is there a pure definition of the difference? I feel that both apparent movement and apparent motion are according to Gleitman et al. (2010) pretty much the same, and could be applied to both sorts of examples. So if presented with a stimulus/illusion, how would one approach them to discern which is which?

  • $\begingroup$ common sense answer... at the second case (Film book) or any such animation... really some 'movement' reach to our eye-retina. It is just an imitation of real movement (however an illusion phi effect, i.e. perceiving the 'conceptual motion' out of limited number of displayed-sample-positions; assists it). But the first-case is purely an illusion. There anything doesn't move; whereas you have to move the pages of flipbook. $\endgroup$
    – user13859
    Oct 23, 2016 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


There is no difference between the two; illusionary movement and motion are interchangeable terms. For example, a definition of apparent motion is (Oxford Index):

A sensation of movement in the absence of actual movement, [for example] visual illusions [...]

And a definition for apparent movement (Psychology Dictionary) is:

[A]n illusion of motion or change of size that is cued by visual tricks.

In other words, apparent movement and apparent motion are the same thing. The two visual illusions you provide, though, are caused by two different neurophysiological phenomena altogether.

The flip book relies on persistent vision where multiple images are blurred into a coherent perception over time.

The rotating spokes illusion is thought to be caused by asymmetric luminance steps that trigger the motion detectors in the brain.


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