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Nadine Dijkstra, Peter Kok, Stephen M. Fleming; Imagery adds stimulus-specific sensory evidence to perceptual detection. Journal of Vision 2022;22(2):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.2.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Internally generated imagery and externally triggered perception rely on overlapping sensory processes. This overlap poses a challenge for perceptual reality monitoring: determining whether sensory signals reflect reality or imagination. In this study, we used psychophysics to investigate how imagery and perception interact to determine visual experience. Participants were instructed to detect oriented gratings that gradually appeared in noise while simultaneously either imagining the same grating, a grating perpendicular to the to-be-detected grating, or nothing. We found that, compared to both incongruent imagery and no imagery, congruent imagery caused a leftward shift of the psychometric function relating stimulus contrast to perceptual threshold. We discuss how this effect can best be explained by a model in which imagery adds sensory signal to the perceptual input, thereby increasing the visibility of perceived stimuli. These results suggest that, in contrast to changes in sensory signals caused by self-generated movement, the brain does not discount the influence of self-generated sensory signals on perception.
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