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Learning to see the Ebbinghaus illusion in the periphery reveals a top-down stabilization of size perception across the visual field

Abstract : Our conscious visual perception relies on predictive signals, notably in the periphery where sensory uncertainty is high. We investigated how such signals could support perceptual stability of objects' size across the visual field. When attended carefully, the same object appears slightly smaller in the periphery compared to the fovea. Could this perceptual difference be encoded as a strong prior to predict the peripheral perceived size relative to the fovea? Recent studies emphasized the role of foveal information in defining peripheral size percepts. However, they could not disentangle bottom-up from top-down mechanisms. Here, we revealed a pure top-down contribution to the perceptual size difference between periphery and fovea. First, we discovered a novel Ebbinghaus illusion effect, inducing a typical reduction of foveal perceived size, but a reversed increase effect in the periphery. The resulting illusory size percept was similar at both locations, deviating from the classic perceptual difference. Then through an updating process of successive peripheral-foveal viewing, the unusual peripheral perceived size decreased. The classic perceptual eccentricity difference was restored and the peripheral illusion effect changed into a fovea-like reduction. Therefore, we report the existence of a prior that actively shapes peripheral size perception and stabilizes it relative to the fovea.
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https://www.hal.inserm.fr/inserm-02941752
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:01:11 PM
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Cécile Eymond, Tal Seidel Malkinson, Lionel Naccache. Learning to see the Ebbinghaus illusion in the periphery reveals a top-down stabilization of size perception across the visual field. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (1), pp.12622. ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-69329-9⟩. ⟨inserm-02941752⟩

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