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Adrien Chopin, Pascal Mamassian; Usefulness influences visual appearance in motion transparency depth rivalry. Journal of Vision 2011;11(7):18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.7.18.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Two sets of dots moving in opposite directions are usually seen as two transparent surfaces. Deciding which surface is in front of the other is bistable and observers exhibit strong biases to see one particular motion direction in front. Surprisingly, biases are dependent on stimulus orientation in a persistent, idiosyncratic, and irrelevant manner. We investigated here whether this preferred direction is arbitrarily fixed or can instead be updated from the context. Observers performed two tasks alternately. One task was to report the surface seen in front in a transparent motion stimulus. The other task was a visual search for a slow dot. Unknown to the observers, we systematically paired the target dot with one surface direction in an attempt to make that surface appear preferentially in front. This manipulation was sufficient to change the observer's preferred direction for the surface seen in front. Attentional explanations did not account for the results. Observers modified their idiosyncratic preference in motion transparency depth rivalry only because it was useful to perform well in an auxiliary task.
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