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Mick Zeljko, Ada Kritikos, Philip M. Grove; Temporal dynamics of a perceptual decision. Journal of Vision 2019;19(5):7. doi: 10.1167/19.5.7.
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Previous research suggests that cognitive factors acting in a top-down manner influence the perceptual interpretation of ambiguous stimuli. To examine the temporal unfolding of these influences as a perceptual decision evolves, we have implemented a modified version of the stream-bounce display. Our novel approach allows us to track responses to stream-bounce stimuli dynamically over the entire course of the motion sequence rather than collecting a subjective report after the fact. Using a trackpad, we had participants control a cursor to track a stream-bounce target actively from start to end and measured tracking speed throughout as the dependent variable. Our paradigm replicated the typical effect of visual-only displays being associated with a streaming bias and audiovisual displays with a bouncing bias. Our main finding is a significant behavioral change preceding a perceptual decision that then predicts that decision. Specifically, for trials in which the sound was presented, tracking speeds were significantly slower starting 500 ms before the point of coincidence and presentation of the sound for bounce compared to stream responses. We suggest that behavioral response may reflect a cognitive expectation of a perceptual outcome that then biases action and the interpretation of sensory input to favor that forthcoming percept in a manner consistent with both the predictive-coding and common-coding theoretical frameworks. Our approach provides a novel behavioral corroboration of recent imaging studies that are suggestive of early brain activity in perception and action.
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