Using ambiguous plaid stimuli to investigate the influence of immediate prior experience on perception

Olivia Carter, Joel S. Snyder, Sandy Fung, Nava Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a series of three experiments, we used an ambiguous plaid motion stimulus to explore the behavioral and electrophysiological effects of prior stimulus exposures and perceptual states on current awareness. The results showed that prior exposure to a stimulus biased toward one percept led to subsequent suppression of that percept. In contrast, in the absence of stimulus bias, prior perceptual experience can have a facilitative influence. The suppressive effects caused by the prior stimulus were found to transfer to an ambiguous plaid test stimulus rotated 180o relative to the adaptation stimulus, but were abolished if (1) the ambiguous test stimulus was only rotated 90o relative to the adaptation stimulus or (2) the adaptation stimulus was heavily biased toward the component grating percept. Event-related potential recordings were consistent with the involvement of visual cortical areas and suggested that the influence of recent stimulus exposure may involve recruitment of additional brain processes beyond those responsible for initial stimulus encoding. In contrast, the effects of prior and current perceptual experience appeared to depend on similar brain processes. Although the data presented here focus on vision, the work is discussed within the context of data from a parallel series of experiments in audition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Audition
  • Electroencephalography
  • Motion
  • Multistability
  • Rivalry
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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