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Effects on orientation perception of manipulating the spatio–temporal prior probability of stimuli

By Kun Guo, Angela Nevado, Robert G. Robertson, Maribel Pulgarin, Alexander Thiele and Malcolm P. Young


Spatial and temporal regularities commonly exist in natural visual scenes. The knowledge of the probability structure of these regularities is likely to be informative for an efficient visual system. Here we explored how manipulating the spatio–temporal prior probability of stimuli affects human orientation perception. Stimulus sequences comprised four collinear bars (predictors) which appeared successively towards the foveal region, followed by a target bar with the same or different orientation. Subjects' orientation perception of the foveal target was biased towards the orientation of the predictors when presented in a highly ordered and predictable sequence. The discrimination thresholds were significantly elevated in proportion to increasing prior probabilities of the predictors. Breaking this sequence, by randomising presentation order or presentation duration, decreased the thresholds. These psychophysical observations are consistent with a Bayesian model, suggesting that a predictable spatio–temporal stimulus structure and an increased probability of collinear trials are associated with the increasing prior expectation of collinear events. Our results suggest that statistical spatio–temporal stimulus regularities are effectively integrated by human visual cortex over a range of spatial and temporal positions, thereby systematically affecting perception

Topics: C800 Psychology, C850 Cognitive Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.visres.2004.04.014
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:719

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