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Nat Neurosci. 2002 Jun;5(6):605-9.

Stable perception of visually ambiguous patterns.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Spemannstrabetae 38, 72076 Tübingen, Germany. david.leopold@tuebingen.mpg.de

Abstract

During the viewing of certain patterns, widely known as ambiguous or puzzle figures, perception lapses into a sequence of spontaneous alternations, switching every few seconds between two or more visual interpretations of the stimulus. Although their nature and origin remain topics of debate, these stochastic switches are generally thought to be the automatic and inevitable consequence of viewing a pattern without a unique solution. We report here that in humans such perceptual alternations can be slowed, and even brought to a standstill, if the visual stimulus is periodically removed from view. We also show, with a visual illusion, that this stabilizing effect hinges on perceptual disappearance rather than on actual removal of the stimulus. These findings indicate that uninterrupted subjective perception of an ambiguous pattern is required for the initiation of the brain-state changes underlying multistable vision.

PMID:
11992115
DOI:
10.1038/nn0602-851
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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