A short-term memory of multi-stable perception.
Ph.D. Prof. Jochen Braun
It is well known that pauses in the presentation of an ambiguous display may stabilize its perceptual appearance. Here we show that this stabilization depends on an extended history spanning several dominance periods, not merely on the most recent period. Specifically, appearance after a pause often reflects less recent (but longer) dominance periods rather than more recent (but shorter) periods. Our results imply the existence of a short-tem memory for perceptual appearance that builds up over seconds, decays over minutes, and is robust to perceptual reversals. Although this memory is most evident in paused displays, it influences perceptual reversals also when display presentation continues: while the memory of one appearance prevails over that of the other, successive dominance durations are positively correlated. This highly unusual successive dependence suggests that multi-stable perception is not the memoryless renewal process as which it has long been regarded. Instead, a short-term memory of appearance must be added to the multiple processes that jointly produce reversals of perceptual appearance.
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