Transformation priming helps to disambiguate sudden changes of sensory inputs

Professorship/Faculty: General Psychology and Methodology  
Author(s): Pastukhov, Alexander  ; Vivian-Griffiths, Solveiga; Braun, Jochen
Title of the Journal: Vision research : an international journal for functional aspects of vision
ISSN: 1878-5646
Publisher Information: Amsterdam [u.a.] : Elsevier Science
Year of publication: 2015
Volume: 116
Issue: Part A, November 2015
Pages: 36-44
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2015.09.005
Retinal input is riddled with abrupt transients due to self-motion, changes in illumination, object-motion, etc. Our visual system must correctly interpret each of these changes to keep visual perception consistent and sensitive. This poses an enormous challenge, as many transients are highly ambiguous in that they are consistent with many alternative physical transformations. Here we investigated inter-trial effects in three situations with sudden and ambiguous transients, each presenting two alternative appearances (rotation-reversing structure-from-motion, polarity-reversing shape-from-shading, and streaming-bouncing object collisions). In every situation, we observed priming of transformations as the outcome perceived in earlier trials tended to repeat in subsequent trials and this repetition was contingent on perceptual experience. The observed priming was specific to transformations and did not originate in priming of perceptual states preceding a transient. Moreover, transformation priming was independent of attention and specific to low level stimulus attributes. In summary, we show how “transformation priors” and experience-driven updating of such priors helps to disambiguate sudden changes of sensory inputs. We discuss how dynamic transformation priors can be instantiated as “transition energies” in an “energy landscape” model of the visual perception.
Keywords: Priming, Attention, Visual perception, Perceptual inference, Visual memory
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 23. November 2016