Individual differences in response precision correlate with adaptation bias

Marcelo G. Mattar, Marie V. Carter, Marc S. Zebrowitz, Sharon L. Thompson-Schill, Geoffrey K. Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The internal representation of stimuli is imperfect and subject to bias. Noise introduced at initial encoding and during maintenance degrades the precision of representation. Stimulus estimation is also biased away from recently encountered stimuli, a phenomenon known as adaptation. Within a Bayesian framework, greater biases are predicted to result from poor precision. We tested for this effect on individual difference measures. Through an online experiment, 202 subjects contributed data. During separate face and color blocks, they performed three different tasks: an immediate stimulus match, a delayed match-tosample, and a delayed match following 5 s of adaptation. The stimulus spaces were circular, and subjects entered their responses on a color/face wheel. Bias and precision of responses were extracted while accounting for the probability of random guesses. We found that the adaptation manipulation induced the expected bias in responses, and the magnitude of this bias varied reliably and substantially between subjects. Across subjects, there was a negative correlation between mean precision and bias. This relationship was replicated in a new experiment with 192 subjects. This result is consistent with a Bayesian observer model, in which the precision of perceptual representation influences the magnitude of perceptual bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2018


  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Bayesian inference
  • Color perception
  • Face perception
  • Individual differences
  • Visual adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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