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Perceptual reversals of Necker stimuli during intermittent presentation with limited attentional resources

Authors

  • Monika Intaitė,

    Corresponding author
    • Visual Neuroscience Laboratory, IBILI, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
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  • Mika Koivisto,

    1. Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
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  • Antti Revonsuo

    1. Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
    3. School of Humanities and Informatics, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
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  • This study was supported by the fellowship of the Centre for International Mobility (decision: TM-09-6514), the fellowship of the Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology (SFRH/BPD/77563/2011), and the Academy of Finland (projects 205661, 110957, and 125175). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Address correspondence to: Monika Intaitė, Visual Neuroscience Laboratory, IBILI, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Azinhaga De Santa Comba, Celas, 3000-548, Coimbra, Portugal. E-mail: mintaite@fmed.uc.pt

Abstract

During prolonged viewing of ambiguous stimuli, such as Necker cubes, sudden perceptual reversals occur from one perceptual interpretation to another. The role of attention in such reversals is not clear. We tested whether perceptual reversals depend on attentional resources by manipulating perceptual load and recording event-related potentials (ERPs) during intermittent presentation of Necker stimuli. The results did not reveal any influence for perceptual load on the frequency of reversals. The ERPs showed that perceptual load influenced electrophysiological activity over parieto-central areas in the P1 time window (110–140 ms), but load did not modify the early enhancements of positivity (30–140 ms), which correlated with perceptual reversals at occipito-temporal sites. We conclude that disambiguation of ambiguous figures is based on early mechanisms that can work efficiently with only a minimal amount of attentional resources.

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