It has previously been reported that visual crowding of a target by flankers is stronger in the upper visual field than in the lower, and this finding has been attributed to greater attentional resolution in the lower hemifield (He, Cavanagh, & Intriligator, 1996). Here we show that the upper/lower asymmetry in visual crowding can be explained by natural variations in the borders of each individual's visual field. Specifically, asymmetry in crowding along the vertical meridian can be almost entirely accounted for by replacing the conventional definition of visual field location, in units of degrees of visual angle, with a definition based on the ratio of the extents of an individual's upper and lower visual field. We also show that the upper/lower crowding asymmetry is eliminated when stimulus eccentricity is expressed in units of percentage of visual field extent but is present when the conventional measure of visual angle is used. We further demonstrate that the relationship between visual field extent and perceptual asymmetry is most evident when participants are able to focus their attention on the target location. These results reveal important influences of visual field boundaries on visual perception, even for visual field locations far from those boundaries.
visual space; space perception; coordinate system; visual field extent; crowding; attention
Humans can judge from vision alone whether an object is physically stable or not. Such judgments allow observers to predict the physical behavior of objects, and hence to guide their motor actions. We investigated the visual estimation of physical stability of 3-D objects (shown in stereoscopically viewed rendered scenes) and how it relates to visual estimates of their center of mass (COM). In Experiment 1, observers viewed an object near the edge of a table and adjusted its tilt to the perceived critical angle, i.e., the tilt angle at which the object was seen as equally likely to fall or return to its upright stable position. In Experiment 2, observers visually localized the COM of the same set of objects. In both experiments, observers' settings were compared to physical predictions based on the objects' geometry. In both tasks, deviations from physical predictions were, on average, relatively small. More detailed analyses of individual observers' settings in the two tasks, however, revealed mutual inconsistencies between observers' critical-angle and COM settings. The results suggest that observers did not use their COM estimates in a physically correct manner when making visual judgments of physical stability.
3-D shape; perceived object stability; critical angle; center of mass
The unique hues—blue, green, yellow, red—form the fundamental dimensions of opponent-color theories, are considered universal across languages, and provide useful mental representations for structuring color percepts. However, there is no neural evidence for them from neurophysiology or low-level psychophysics. Tapping a higher prelinguistic perceptual level, we tested whether unique hues are particularly salient in search tasks. We found no advantage for unique hues over their nonunique complementary colors. However, yellowish targets were detected faster, more accurately, and with fewer saccades than their complementary bluish targets (including unique blue), while reddish-greenish pairs were not significantly different in salience. Similarly, local field potentials in primate V1 exhibited larger amplitudes and shorter latencies for yellowish versus bluish stimuli, whereas this effect was weaker for reddish versus greenish stimuli. Consequently, color salience is affected more by early neural response asymmetries than by any possible mental or neural representation of unique hues.
unique hues; salience; color perception; color psychophysics; color electrophysiology; visual search; response asymmetry
The natural viewing behavior of moving observers ideally requires target-selecting saccades to be coordinated with automatic gaze-stabilizing eye movements such as optokinetic nystagmus. However, it is unknown whether saccade plans can compensate for reflexive movement of the eye during the variable saccade latency period, and it is unclear whether reflexive nystagmus is even accompanied by extraretinal signals carrying the eye movement information that could potentially underpin such compensation. We show that saccades do partially compensate for optokinetic nystagmus that displaces the eye during the saccade latency period. Moreover, this compensation is as good as for displacements due to voluntary smooth pursuit. In other words, the saccade system appears to be as well coordinated with reflexive nystagmus as it is with volitional pursuit, which in turn implies that extraretinal signals accompany nystagmus and are just as informative as those accompanying pursuit.
automatic; control; exogenous; endogenous; oculomotor
Visual crowding refers to a phenomenon whereby objects that appear in the periphery of the visual field are more difficult to identify when embedded within clutter. Pooling models assert that crowding results from an obligatory averaging or other combination of target and distractor features that occurs prior to awareness. One well-known manifestation of pooling is feature averaging, with which the features of target and nontarget stimuli are combined at an early stage of visual processing. Conversely, substitution models assert that crowding results from binding a target and nearby distractors to incorrect spatial locations. Recent evidence suggests that substitution predominates when target–flanker feature similarity is low, but it is unclear whether averaging or substitution best explains crowding when similarity is high. Here, we examined participants' orientation report errors for targets crowded by similar or dissimilar flankers. In two experiments, we found evidence inconsistent with feature averaging regardless of target–flanker similarity. However, the observed data could be accommodated by a probabilistic substitution model in which participants occasionally “swap” a target for a distractor. Thus, we conclude that—at least for the displays used here—crowding likely results from a probabilistic substitution of targets and distractors, regardless of target–distractor feature similarity.
crowding; pooling; substitution
Covert spatial attention increases the perceived contrast of stimuli at attended locations, presumably via enhancement of visual neural responses. However, the relation between perceived contrast and the underlying neural responses has not been characterized. In this study, we systematically varied stimulus contrast, using a two-alternative, forced-choice comparison task to probe the effect of attention on appearance across the contrast range. We modeled performance in the task as a function of underlying neural contrast-response functions. Fitting this model to the observed data revealed that an increased input baseline in the neural responses accounted for the enhancement of apparent contrast with spatial attention.
covert attention; contrast appearance
Because specular reflection is view-dependent, shiny surfaces behave radically differently from matte, textured surfaces when viewed with two eyes. As a result, specular reflections pose substantial problems for binocular stereopsis. Here we use a combination of computer graphics and geometrical analysis to characterize the key respects in which specular stereo differs from standard stereo, to identify how and why the human visual system fails to reconstruct depths correctly from specular reflections. We describe rendering of stereoscopic images of specular surfaces in which the disparity information can be varied parametrically and independently of monocular appearance. Using the generated surfaces and images, we explain how stereo correspondence can be established with known and unknown surface geometry. We show that even with known geometry, stereo matching for specular surfaces is nontrivial because points in one eye may have zero, one, or multiple matches in the other eye. Matching features typically yield skew (nonintersecting) rays, leading to substantial ortho-epipolar components to the disparities, which makes deriving depth values from matches nontrivial. We suggest that the human visual system may base its depth estimates solely on the epipolar components of disparities while treating the ortho-epipolar components as a measure of the underlying reliability of the disparity signals. Reconstructing virtual surfaces according to these principles reveals that they are piece-wise smooth with very large discontinuities close to inflection points on the physical surface. Together, these distinctive characteristics lead to cues that the visual system could use to diagnose specular reflections from binocular information.
stereopsis; matching; correspondence problem; binocular vision; specularity; material perception
Color breakup is an artifact seen on displays that present colors sequentially. When the eye tracks a moving object on such a display, different colors land on different places on the retina, and this gives rise to visible color fringes at the object's leading and trailing edges. Interestingly, color breakup is also observed when the eye is stationary and an object moves by. Using a novel psychophysical procedure, we measured breakup both when viewers tracked and did not track a moving object. Breakup was somewhat more visible in the tracking than in the non-tracking condition. The video frames contained three subframes, one each for red, green, and blue. We spatially offset the green and blue stimuli in the second and third subframes, respectively, to find the values that minimized breakup. In the tracking and non-tracking conditions, spatial offsets of Δx/3 in the second subframe (where Δx is the displacement of the object in one frame) and 2Δx/3 in the third eliminated breakup. Thus, this method offers a way to minimize or even eliminate breakup whether the viewer is tracking or not. We suggest ways to implement the method with real video content. We also developed a color-breakup model based on spatiotemporal filtering in color-opponent pathways in early vision. We found close agreement between the model's predictions and the experimental results. The model can be used to predict breakup for a wide variety of conditions.
color breakup; DLP projector; motion; eye movements; color-opponent processing
Behavioral responses to visual stimuli exhibit visual field asymmetries, but cortical folding and the close proximity of visual cortical areas make electrophysiological comparisons between different stimulus locations problematic. Retinotopy-constrained source estimation (RCSE) uses distributed dipole models simultaneously constrained by multiple stimulus locations to provide separation between individual visual areas that is not possible with conventional source estimation methods. Magnetoencephalography and RCSE were used to estimate time courses of activity in V1, V2, V3, and V3A. Responses to left and right hemifield stimuli were not significantly different. Peak latencies for peripheral stimuli were significantly shorter than those for perifoveal stimuli in V1, V2, and V3A, likely related to the greater proportion of magnocellular input to V1 in the periphery. Consistent with previous results, sensor magnitudes for lower field stimuli were about twice as large as for upper field, which is only partially explained by the proximity to sensors for lower field cortical sources in V1, V2, and V3. V3A exhibited both latency and amplitude differences for upper and lower field responses. There were no differences for V3, consistent with previous suggestions that dorsal and ventral V3 are two halves of a single visual area, rather than distinct areas V3 and VP.
visual processing; visual area; visual field asymmetry; MEG; fMRI; RCSE; retinotopy; electrophysiology; V1; V2; V3; VP; V3A
Acuity is the most commonly used measure of visual function, and reductions in acuity are associated with most eye diseases. Metamorphopsia—a perceived distortion of visual space—is another common symptom of visual impairment and is currently assessed qualitatively using Amsler (1953) charts. In order to quantify the impact of metamorphopsia on acuity, we measured the effect of physical spatial distortion on letter recognition. Following earlier work showing that letter recognition is tuned to specific spatial frequency (SF) channels, we hypothesized that the effect of distortion might depend on the spatial scale of visual distortion just as it depends on the spatial scale of masking noise. Six normally sighted observers completed a 26 alternate forced choice (AFC) Sloan letter identification task at five different viewing distances, and the letters underwent different levels of spatial distortion. Distortion was controlled using spatially band-pass filtered noise that spatially remapped pixel locations. Noise was varied over five spatial frequencies and five magnitudes. Performance was modeled with logistic regression and worsened linearly with increasing distortion magnitude and decreasing letter size. We found that retinal SF affects distortion at midrange frequencies and can be explained with the tuning of a basic contrast sensitivity function, while object-centered distortion SF follows a similar pattern of letter object recognition sensitivity and is tuned to approximately three cycles per letter (CPL). The interaction between letter size and distortion makes acuity an unreliable outcome for metamorphopsia assessment.
letter recognition; visual acuity; spatial vision; metamorphopsia; clinical vision; macular degeneration
One approach toward understanding how vision computes surface lightness is to first determine what principles govern lightness in simple stimuli and then test whether these hold for more complex stimuli. Gilchrist (2006) proposed that in the simplest images that produce the experience of a surface (two surfaces differing in luminance that fill the entire visual field) lightness can be predicted based on two anchoring rules: the highest luminance rule and the area rule, plus a scale normalization. To test whether these anchoring rules hold when critical features of the stimuli are varied, we probed lightness in simple stimuli, painted onto the inside of hemispheric domes viewed under diffuse lighting. We find that although the highest luminance surface appears nearly white across a large variation in illumination (as predicted by the highest luminance rule), its lightness tends to increase as its luminance increases. This effect is small relative to the size of the overall luminance change. Further, we find that when the darker region fills more than half of the visual field, it appears to lighten with further increases in area but only if it is a single surface. Splitting the dark region into smaller sectors that cover an equal cumulative area diminishes or eliminates the area effect.
lightness perception; anchoring; highest luminance rule; area rule
For anomalous trichromats, threshold contrasts for color differences captured by the L and M cones and their anomalous analogs are much higher than for normal trichromats. The greater spectral overlap of the cone sensitivities reduces chromatic contrast both at and above threshold. But above threshold, adaptively nonlinear processing might compensate for the chromatically impoverished photoreceptor inputs. Ratios of sensitivity for threshold variations and for color appearance along the two cardinal axes of MacLeod-Boynton chromaticity space were calculated for three groups: normals (N = 15), deuteranomals (N = 9), and protanomals (N = 5). Using a four-alternative forced choice (4AFC) task, threshold sensitivity was measured in four color-directions along the two cardinal axes. For the same participants, we reconstructed perceptual color spaces for the positions of 25 hues using multidimensional scaling (MDS). From the reconstructed color spaces we extracted “color difference ratios,” defined as ratios for the size of perceived color differences along the L/(L + M) axis relative to those along the S/(L + M) axis, analogous to “sensitivity ratios” extracted from the 4AFC task. In the 4AFC task, sensitivity ratios were 38% of normal for deuteranomals and 19% of normal for protanomals. Yet, in the MDS results, color difference ratios were 86% of normal for deuteranomals and 67% of normal for protanomals. Thus, the contraction along the L/(L + M) axis shown in the perceptual color spaces of anomalous trichromats is far smaller than predicted by their reduced sensitivity, suggesting that an adaptive adjustment of postreceptoral gain may magnify the cone signals of anomalous trichromats to exploit the range of available postreceptoral neural signals.
deuteranomaly; protanomaly; anomalous trichromacy; multidimensional scaling; postreceptoral gain; color sensitivity; color appearance
Perceptual learning, a process in which training improves visual discrimination, is often specific to the trained retinal location, and this location specificity is frequently regarded as an indication of neural plasticity in the retinotopic visual cortex. However, our previous studies have shown that “double training” enables location-specific perceptual learning, such as Vernier learning, to completely transfer to a new location where an irrelevant task is practiced. Here we show that Vernier learning can be actuated by less location-specific orientation or motion-direction learning to transfer to completely untrained retinal locations. This “piggybacking” effect occurs even if both tasks are trained at the same retinal location. However, piggybacking does not occur when the Vernier task is paired with a more location-specific contrast-discrimination task. This previously unknown complexity challenges the current understanding of perceptual learning and its specificity/transfer. Orientation and motion-direction learning, but not contrast and Vernier learning, appears to activate a global process that allows learning transfer to untrained locations. Moreover, when paired with orientation or motion-direction learning, Vernier learning may be “piggybacked” by the activated global process to transfer to other untrained retinal locations. How this task-specific global activation process is achieved is as yet unknown.
perceptual learning; transfer; double training; Vernier
Our brain often needs to estimate unknown variables from imperfect information. Our knowledge about the statistical distributions of quantities in our environment (called priors) and currently available information from sensory inputs (called likelihood) are the basis of all Bayesian models of perception and action. While we know that priors are learned, most studies of prior-likelihood integration simply assume that subjects know about the likelihood. However, as the quality of sensory inputs change over time, we also need to learn about new likelihoods. Here, we show that human subjects readily learn the distribution of visual cues (likelihood function) in a way that can be predicted by models of statistically optimal learning. Using a likelihood that depended on color context, we found that a learned likelihood generalized to new priors. Thus, we conclude that subjects learn about likelihood.
Bayesian models; likelihood learning; sensorimotor integration; context-dependent learning
S-cone increment and decrement detection thresholds were measured in the presence of bipolar, dynamic noise masks. Noise chromaticities were the L-, M-, and S-cone directions, as well as L−M, L+M, and achromatic (L+M+S) directions. Noise contrast power was varied to measure threshold Energy versus Noise (EvN) functions. S+ and S− thresholds were similarly, and weakly, raised by achromatic noise. However, S+ thresholds were much more elevated by S, L+M, L–M, L- and M-cone noises than were S− thresholds, even though the noises consisted of two symmetric chromatic polarities of equal contrast power. A linear cone combination model accounts for the overall pattern of masking of a single test polarity well. L and M cones have opposite signs in their effects upon raising S+ and S− thresholds. The results strongly indicate that the psychophysical mechanisms responsible for S+ and S− detection, presumably based on S-ON and S-OFF pathways, are distinct, unipolar mechanisms, and that they have different spatiotemporal sampling characteristics, or contrast gains, or both.
S cone; on/off; increment/decrement; color mechanisms; chromatic detection; chromatic noise
Studies showing that occipital cortex responds to auditory and tactile stimuli after early blindness are often interpreted as demonstrating that early blind subjects “see” auditory and tactile stimuli. However, it is not clear whether these occipital responses directly mediate the perception of auditory/tactile stimuli, or simply modulate or augment responses within other sensory areas. We used fMRI pattern classification to categorize the perceived direction of motion for both coherent and ambiguous auditory motion stimuli. In sighted individuals, perceived motion direction was accurately categorized based on neural responses within the planum temporale (PT) and right lateral occipital cortex (LOC). Within early blind individuals, auditory motion decisions for both stimuli were successfully categorized from responses within the human middle temporal complex (hMT+), but not the PT or right LOC. These findings suggest that early blind responses within hMT+ are associated with the perception of auditory motion, and that these responses in hMT+ may usurp some of the functions of nondeprived PT. Thus, our results provide further evidence that blind individuals do indeed “see” auditory motion.
blindness; cross-modal; motion; visual deprivation
Recent sensory experience can alter our perception and change the response characteristics of sensory neurons. These effects of sensory adaptation are a ubiquitous property of perceptual systems and are believed to be of fundamental importance to sensory coding. Yet we know little about how adaptation to stimulus ensembles affects our perception of the environment as most psychophysical experiments employ adaptation protocols that focus on prolonged exposure to a single visual attribute. Here, we investigate how concurrent adaptation to multiple directions of motion affects perception of subsequently presented motion using the direction aftereffect. In different conditions, observers adapted to a stimulus ensemble comprised of dot directions sampled from different distributions or to bidirectional motion. Increasing the variance of normally distributed directions reduced the magnitude of the peak direction aftereffect and broadened its tuning profile. Sampling of asymmetric Gaussian and uniform distributions resulted in shifts of direction aftereffect tuning profiles consistent with changes in the perceived global direction of the adapting stimulus. Adding dots in a direction opposite or orthogonal to a unidirectional adapting stimulus led to a pronounced reduction in the direction aftereffect. A simple population-coding model, in which adaptation selectively alters the responsivity of direction-selective neurons, can accommodate the effects of multidirectional adaptation on the perceived direction of motion.
adaptation; aftereffects; direction of aftereffect; population coding; modeling
In early retinotopic areas of the human visual system, information from the left and right visual hemifields (VHFs) is processed contralaterally in two hemispheres. Despite this segregation, we have the perceptual experience of a unified, coherent, and uninterrupted single visual field. How exactly the visual system integrates information from the two VHFs and achieves this perceptual experience still remains largely unknown. In this study using fMRI, we explored candidate areas that are involved in interhemispheric integration and the perceptual experience of a unified, global motion across VHFs. Stimuli were two-dimensional, computer-generated objects with parts in both VHFs. The retinal image in the left VHF always remained stationary, but in the experimental condition, it appeared to have local motion because of the perceived global motion of the object. This perceptual effect could be weakened by directing the attention away from the global motion through a demanding fixation task. Results show that lateral occipital areas, including the medial temporal complex, play an important role in the process of perceptual experience of a unified global motion across VHFs. In early areas, including the lateral geniculate nucleus and V1, we observed correlates of this perceptual experience only when attention is not directed away from the object. These findings reveal effects of attention on interhemispheric integration in motion perception and imply that both the bilateral activity of higher-tier visual areas and feedback mechanisms leading to bilateral activity of early areas play roles in the perceptual experience of a unified visual field.
global motion perception; interhemispheric integration; fMRI; visual brain; perceptual experience of unified visual field
It has been proposed that the accommodation system could perform contrast discrimination between the two dioptric extremes of accommodative microfluctuations to extract directional signals for reflex accommodation. Higher-order aberrations (HOAs) may have a significant influence on the strength of these contrast signals. Our goal was to compute the effect HOAs may have on contrast signals for stimuli within the upper defocus limit by comparing computed microcontrast fluctuations with psychophysical contrast increment thresholds (Bradley & Ohzawa, 1986). Wavefront aberrations were measured while subjects viewed a Maltese spoke stimulus monocularly. Computations were performed for accommodation or disaccommodation stimuli from a 3 Diopter (D) baseline. Microfluctuations were estimated from the standard deviation of the wavefronts over time at baseline. Through-focus Modulation Transfer, optical contrast increments (ΔC), and Weber fractions (ΔC/C) were derived from point spread functions computed from the wavefronts at baseline for 2 and 4 cycles per degree (cpd) components, with and without HOAs. The ΔCs thus computed from the wavefronts were compared with psychophysical contrast increment threshold data. Microfluctuations are potentially useful for extracting directional information for defocus values within 3 D, where contrast increments for the 2 or 4 cpd components exceed psychophysical thresholds. HOAs largely reduce contrast signals produced by microfluctuations, depending on the mean focus error, and their magnitude in individual subjects, and they may shrink the effective stimulus range for reflex accommodation. The upper defocus limit could therefore be constrained by discrimination of microcontrast fluctuations.
optical aberrations; accommodation; microfluctuations
A practical model is proposed for predicting the detectability of targets at arbitrary locations in the visual field, in arbitrary gray scale backgrounds, and under photopic viewing conditions. The major factors incorporated into the model include (a) the optical point spread function of the eye, (b) local luminance gain control (Weber's law), (c) the sampling array of retinal ganglion cells, (d) orientation and spatial frequency–dependent contrast masking, (e) broadband contrast masking, and (f) efficient response pooling. The model is tested against previously reported threshold measurements on uniform backgrounds (the ModelFest data set and data from Foley, Varadharajan, Koh, & Farias, 2007) and against new measurements reported here for several ModelFest targets presented on uniform, 1/f noise, and natural backgrounds at retinal eccentricities ranging from 0° to 10°. Although the model has few free parameters, it is able to account quite well for all the threshold measurements.
spatial vision; detection; masking; peripheral vision; ganglion cells; natural images
Intuitively, extrapolating object trajectories should make visual tracking more accurate. This has proven to be true in many contexts that involve tracking a single item. But surprisingly, when tracking multiple identical items in what is known as “multiple object tracking,” observers often appear to ignore direction of motion, relying instead on basic spatial memory. We investigated potential reasons for this behavior through probabilistic models that were endowed with perceptual limitations in the range of typical human observers, including noisy spatial perception. When we compared a model that weights its extrapolations relative to other sources of information about object position, and one that does not extrapolate at all, we found no reliable difference in performance, belying the intuition that extrapolation always benefits tracking. In follow-up experiments we found this to be true for a variety of models that weight observations and predictions in different ways; in some cases we even observed worse performance for models that use extrapolations compared to a model that does not at all. Ultimately, the best performing models either did not extrapolate, or extrapolated very conservatively, relying heavily on observations. These results illustrate the difficulty and attendant hazards of using noisy inputs to extrapolate the trajectories of multiple objects simultaneously in situations with targets and featurally confusable nontargets.
multiple object tracking; Kalman filter; attention; spatial working memory
The Thatcher illusion provides a compelling example of the perceptual cost of face inversion. The Thatcher illusion is often thought to result from a disruption to the processing of spatial relations between face features. Here, we show the limitations of this account and instead demonstrate that the effect of inversion in the Thatcher illusion is better explained by a disruption to the processing of purely local facial features. Using a matching task, we found that participants were able to discriminate normal and Thatcherized versions of the same face when they were presented in an upright orientation, but not when the images were inverted. Next, we showed that the effect of inversion was also apparent when only the eye region or only the mouth region was visible. These results demonstrate that a key component of the Thatcher illusion is to be found in orientation-specific encoding of the expressive features (eyes and mouth) of the face.
face; Thatcher illusion; expression; inversion
Statistical learning—learning environmental regularities to guide behavior—likely plays an important role in natural human behavior. One potential use is in search for valuable items. Because visual statistical learning can be acquired quickly and without intention or awareness, it could optimize search and thereby conserve energy. For this to be true, however, visual statistical learning needs to be viewpoint invariant, facilitating search even when people walk around. To test whether implicit visual statistical learning of spatial information is viewpoint independent, we asked participants to perform a visual search task from variable locations around a monitor placed flat on a stand. Unbeknownst to participants, the target was more often in some locations than others. In contrast to previous research on stationary observers, visual statistical learning failed to produce a search advantage for targets in high-probable regions that were stable within the environment but variable relative to the viewer. This failure was observed even when conditions for spatial updating were optimized. However, learning was successful when the rich locations were referenced relative to the viewer. We conclude that changing viewer perspective disrupts implicit learning of the target's location probability. This form of learning shows limited integration with spatial updating or spatiotopic representations.
statistical learning; visual attention; spatial updating; viewpoint specificity
The role of target typicality in a categorical visual search task was investigated by cueing observers with a target name, followed by a five-item target present/absent search array in which the target images were rated in a pretest to be high, medium, or low in typicality with respect to the basic-level target cue. Contrary to previous work, we found that search guidance was better for high-typicality targets compared to low-typicality targets, as measured by both the proportion of immediate target fixations and the time to fixate the target. Consistent with previous work, we also found an effect of typicality on target verification times, the time between target fixation and the search judgment; as target typicality decreased, verification times increased. To model these typicality effects, we trained Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifiers on the target categories, and tested these on the corresponding specific targets used in the search task. This analysis revealed significant differences in classifier confidence between the high-, medium-, and low-typicality groups, paralleling the behavioral results. Collectively, these findings suggest that target typicality broadly affects both search guidance and verification, and that differences in typicality can be predicted by distance from an SVM classification boundary.
typicality; visual search; eye movements; categorization classification
Binocular rivalry (BR) and motion-induced blindness (MIB) are two phenomena of visual awareness where perception alternates between multiple states despite constant retinal input. Both phenomena have been extensively studied, but the underlying processing remains unclear. It has been suggested that BR and MIB involve the same neural mechanism, but how the two phenomena compete for visual awareness in the same stimulus has not been systematically investigated. Here we introduce BR in a dichoptic stimulus display that can also elicit MIB and examine fluctuations of visual awareness over the course of each trial. Exploiting this paradigm we manipulated stimulus characteristics that are known to influence MIB and BR. In two experiments we found that effects on multistable percepts were incompatible with the idea of a common oscillator. The results suggest instead that local and global stimulus attributes can affect the dynamics of each percept differently. We conclude that the two phenomena of visual awareness share basic temporal characteristics but are most likely influenced by processing at different stages within the visual system.
visual awareness; motion-induced blindness; binocular rivalry; multistable; gamma distribution; visual hierarchy