Hysteresis in Processing of Perceptual Ambiguity on Three Different Timescales


Sensory information is a priori incomplete and ambiguous. Our perceptual system has to make predictions about the sources of the sensory information, based on concepts from perceptual memory in order to create stable and reliable percepts. We presented ambiguous and disambiguated lattice stimuli (variants of the Necker cube) in order to measure a hysteresis effects in visual perception. Fifteen healthy participants observed two periods of ordered sequences of lattices with increasing and decreasing ambiguity and indicated their percepts, in two experimental conditions with different starting stimuli of the ordered sequence. We compared the stimulus parameters at the perceptual reversal between conditions and periods and found significant differences between conditions and periods, indicating memory contributions to perceptual outcomes on three different time scales from milliseconds over seconds up to lifetime memory. Our results demonstrate the fruitful application of physical concepts like hysteresis and complementarity to visual perception.

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