phi phenomenon

phi-phenomenon

[fahy-fi-nom-uh-non, -nuhn]
noun, plural phi-phenomena [fahy-fi-nom-uh-nuh] . Psychology.
motion perceived by a subject, especially the illusion of movement produced when stationary stimuli, as pictures or lights, are presented in rapid succession and are sometimes in slightly different positions.

Origin:
1925–30

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phi-phenomenon (ˈfaɪfɪˌnɒmɪnən)
 
n , pl -na
1.  the illusion that when two lights are rapidly turned on and off in succession something appears to move backwards and forwards between them while the lights stay stationary
2.  a similar illusion in which one light appears to move smoothly backwards and forwards
 
[C20: arbitrary use of Greek phi]

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