Brain Topography

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 202–217 | Cite as

Electrophysiological Modulation in an Effort to Complete Illusory Figures: Configuration, Illusory Contour and Closure Effects

Original Paper


Figure recognition process: From the coarse configuration standing from the background to the closure of a meaningful shape, was investigated by ERP technique. ERP components at different latencies from stimulus onset allowed to tap into the figure recognition process at discrete time-points when different cognitive operations take place. In this study, we present two experiments where the support-ratio (SR) of illusory figures was manipulated to vary continuously the recognition of geometrical figures. In the first experiment three shapes were used to vary the SR and the P1 component (80–130 ms) was modulated by the configuration-effect explained, in part for the first time, with the unbalanced physical stimulation between upper and lower visual field. In the second experiment, we used one shape and varied systematically the SR in a discrimination task. The N1 (130–180 ms) and the N2 (230–270 ms) were modulated by two effects: The Ic-effect, represented by the N1, and the closure-effect, represented by the N2, being larger when the SR was small and the discrimination more difficult with respect to large SRs and easier discrimination. These results showed that figure recognition proceeded from the coarse parsing of the visual scene (configuration-effect), through the completion of a set of illusory borders (Ic-effect) to the final assembling of a meaningful shape (closure-effect).


ERPs Illusory figure LOC Figure-ground segmentation Visual system hierarchy 



The study was supported, in part, by research funding of the University of Verona. We are grateful to three anonymous referees who contributed to greatly improve the paper with their comments and criticisms.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurosciences, Section of Physiology and PsychologyUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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