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Jürgen Kornmeier, Michael Bach; Object perception: When our brain is impressed but we do not notice it. Journal of Vision 2009;9(1):7. doi: 10.1167/9.1.7.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Although our eyes receive incomplete and ambiguous information, our perceptual system is usually able to successfully construct a stable representation of the world. In the case of ambiguous figures, however, perception is unstable, spontaneously alternating between equally possible outcomes. The present study compared EEG responses to ambiguous figures and their unambiguous variants. We found that slight figural changes, which turn ambiguous figures into unambiguous ones, lead to a dramatic difference in an ERP (“event-related potential”) component at around 400 ms. This result was obtained across two different categories of figures, namely the geometric Necker cube stimulus and the semantic Old/Young Woman face stimulus. Our results fit well into the Bayesian inference concept, which models the evaluation of a perceptual interpretation's reliability for subsequent action planning. This process seems to be unconscious and the late EEG signature may be a correlate of the outcome.
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