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An illusion of visual stability


Despite a noisy and ever-changing visual world, our perceptual experience seems remarkably stable over time. How does our visual system achieve this apparent stability? Here, we introduce a novel visual illusion which shows direct evidence for an online mechanism continuously smoothing our percepts over time.





A continuously seen physically changing object can be misperceived as unchanging.
We find that online object appearance is captured by past visual experience
up to 15 seconds ago.

These are other examples with other face identities (left) and other face features (right).

We propose that, because of an underlying active mechanism of serial dependence, the representation of the object is continuously merged over time, and the consequence is an illusory stability in which object appearance is biased towards the past. Our results provide the first direct demonstration of the link between serial dependence in visual representations and perceived visual stability in everyday life.


Illusion of visual stability through active perceptual serial dependence.
Manassi M. & Whitney D. (2022).
Science Advances, 8(2), eabk2480

link   pdf   doi   PubMed


Demo material available here.

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