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Periods of stimulus absence stabilize the perception of ambiguous patterns

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84068

Maier,  A
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84050

Leopold,  DA
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84063

Logothetis,  NK
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Wilke, M., Maier, A., Leopold, D., & Logothetis, N. (2002). Periods of stimulus absence stabilize the perception of ambiguous patterns. Poster presented at 5. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2002), Tübingen, Germany.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-E04E-C
Abstract
A fundamental property of ambiguous visual patterns is the inevitability of perceptual reversal. The rate of alternation generally depends both upon the physical structure of the stimulus as well as the inherent rate of an individual. Here we present evidence that critical to the reversal process is the prolonged physical presence of the inducing stimulus. We systematically investigated the influence of stimulus on and off durations on the stability of such patterns, finding that minimizing the duration of the stimulus “on time” was the predominant factor in perceptual stabilization. We demonstrate that when stimuli are shown only intermittently, the rate of perceptual alternation sharply declines to nearly zero in some subjects. In particular, we found that rotating three-dimensional bistable patterns with mean dominance time less than 10 seconds could be stabilized for periods lasting over ten minutes by correctly adjusting the duration of on and off periods. Since either perceptual state could be maintained in this way, this effect did not simply reflect a perceptual bias on the part of the observer. This trend was also present for other bistable patterns, including those involving geometric depth reversals and apparent motion correspondence. We suggest that upon removal of the inducing stimulus a visual memory process retains and hold the last perceptual state, which persists and governs the perceptual interpretation during the subsequent presentation. Electrophysiological studies are currently underway to better elucidate the neural mechanisms contributing to this phenomenon.