What is it about?

We conducted a study to investigate how our brain processes visual information. Our goal was to explore the roles of different factors that influence our perception, including both bottom-up (e.g., the image itself) and top-down processes (e.g., our expectations, prior experiences, and thoughts). To do this, we used an ambiguous test stimulus, a movie sequence of a 3D cylinder made of moving dots (structure-from-motion, or SFM) which could be interpreted as being slanted in two opposite directions. We tested the effects of priming by briefly presenting different non-ambiguous stimuli (or "primes") prior to the test stimulus. These primes included a disambiguated SFM-cylinder, a still image of a slanted cylinder, and an imagined slanted cylinder (by willpower internally generated prime). We conducted two experiments: the first where the primes and test image were presented in the same location, and the second where the test image was randomly positioned relatively the prime, and in a separate session we measured reversal rates during 5 minutes viewing of the ambiguous SFM-cylinder. We also administered personality, imagery, and cognitive styles questionnaires to see if these factors were related to perceptual priming or reversal rates. We found that all primes influence the interpretation of the test image. Both "top-down" factors, like what a person was thinking about, and "bottom-up" factors, like where their eyes were focused, could affect how they perceived the ambiguous image. Certain personality traits, such as openness to experience and neuroticism, were associated with differences in perception regarding the reversal rates. Overall, our study sheds light on the complex and multi-faceted nature of visual perception, and highlights the important role of both internal and external factors in shaping our perception of the world around us.

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This page is a summary of: Priming and reversals of the perceived ambiguous orientation of a structure-from-motion shape and relation to personality traits, PLoS ONE, August 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273772.
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