A stationary display of white discs positioned on intersecting gray bars on a dark background gives rise to a striking scintillating effect—the scintillating grid illusion. The spatial and temporal properties of the illusion are well known, but a neuronal-level explanation of the mechanism has not been fully investigated. Motivated by the neurophysiology of the Limulus retina, we propose disinhibition and self-inhibition as possible neural mechanisms that may give rise to the illusion. In this letter, a spatiotemporal model of the early visual pathway is derived that explicitly accounts for these two mechanisms. The model successfully predicted the change of strength in the illusion under various stimulus conditions, indicating that low-level mechanisms may well explain the scintillating effect in the illusion.

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