Most scientists believe rivalry occurs only when there’s “spatial conflict”—two objects striking the same place on the retina at the same time as our eyes move. But the retina isn’t the only filter or organizer of visual information. There’s also the “non-retinal reference frame”—objects such as mountains or chairs that locate things in space and make the world appear stable even when our eyes are moving.
“We asked: what if visual ambiguities are not presented on the same spot on the retina, but on the objects [in the frame] as they move around,” says California Institute of Technology cognitive scientist Jeroen J.A. van Boxtel. Indeed, he and colleague Christof Koch found evidence of rivalry in this reference frame, with surprising effects on the better-understood spatial conflict. The findings, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association of Psychological Science, offer intriguing clues to how the visual system works.
In their experiments, van Boxtel and Koch created spatial conflict with a “motion quartet,” which changes the arrangement of four dots. If the dots are displaced in certain ways, the visual system isn’t sure if the movement is vertical or horizontal. If the dots move to an altogether different space, there’s no rivalry. Then the researchers upped the perceptual ante by creating an object reference frame with three white discs and shifting it, too, along with or in opposition to the smaller dots.
Seven male and female participants viewed the changing arrangements in four conditions. In one, both dots and discs remained stationary (creating spatial rivalry); in each of two, either dots or discs moved right or left; in the fourth, both moved horizontally together (creating ambiguity in the frame). Each time, participants had to press a button indicating whether the dots moved horizontally or vertically. The presses were analyzed for perceived movement “bias” (more horizontal or vertical) and duration—evidence either of rivalry or visual clarity.
The results: Even when the dots moved to another space altogether—so there was no spatial conflict—the moving discs created the effect of perceptual ambiguity. But the researchers also found that visual rivalry disappeared when the dots were stationary and the disks moved (that is, the dots were not linked to the disks). It was as if the brain had bigger fish—object-frame rivalry—to fry.
In subsequent experiments—one changing the vertical relationship of the dots and one placing the dots outside the white discs—the researchers got results similar to those they would have gotten without the frame. Their conclusion: The visual system is working out object-frame rivalry as it would spatial rivalry, probably with the same brain regions and processes.
For more information about this study, please contact: Jeroen J. A. van Boxtel at email@example.com.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Visual rivalry without spatial conflict" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences