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Andreia Verdade, João Castelhano, Teresa Sousa, Miguel Castelo-Branco; How positive emotional content overrules perceptual history effects: Hysteresis in emotion recognition. Journal of Vision 2020;20(8):19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.8.19.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The human visual system is constantly processing multiple and often conflicting sensory cues to make perceptual decisions. Given the nonlinear nature of emotion recognition, this often leads to different percepts of the same physical facial expression. Moreover, the state of the emotion recognition system might depend on the trajectory of temporal context, potentially leading to a phenomenon known as perceptual hysteresis. Here, we aimed to explore temporal context-related mechanisms underlying perceptual hysteresis during emotion recognition. We hypothesized that dependence on recent perceptual experience might reveal important clues about the role of short-term memory on the perception of emotional stimuli. Behavioral data were acquired using reality-based, changing emotion expressions morphed from a source to a target emotion with different valences, always passing through a neutral expression. Participants identified the onset and offset of what they perceived as the neutral expression interval. Our results showed that current perception of emotional expression is affected by recent temporal context, thus revealing perceptual hysteresis. We also found a relation between recent perceptual history effects and stimulus emotional Content: The positive valence of the stimulus emotional content appeared to abolish perceptual history effects, whereas negatively loaded stimuli induced clear short-term memory effects and positive hysteresis. Our findings show direct competition between recent perceptual experience and stimulus emotional content during decision making, which affects the formation of current percepts in emotion recognition.
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