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Liwei Sun, Kevin Hartstein, Sebastian Frank, Peter Tse; Volitionally altering the immediate past: Postdictive Biasing of Perceived Motion Direction. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):438. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.438.
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Among physical events, it is impossible that an event could alter its own past for the simple reason that past events cause future events and not vice versa. To do so would amount to impossible self-causation. However, mental events are constructed by processes that take a finite duration. It is therefore conceivable that later events could alter the ongoing interpretation of previous events if they arrive within this finite duration and before a commitment has been made to what must have happened in the world to generate the image sequence. In the current study, we showed that humans can volitionally bias how they will perceive an ambiguous apparent motion sequence, as long as the top-down auditory command occurs within ~133 ms after the occurrence of the actual motion event in the world. This finding supports the idea that there is a temporal integration period during which perception is constructed on the basis of both bottom-up and top-down inputs.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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