General and experimental psychology

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Online colloquium by Dr. Mauro Manassi

Beneficial and detrimental serial dependencies in visual perception


Talk by Dr. Mauro Manassi (6th May, 18:00)

Beneficial and detrimental serial dependencies in visual perception


Perception can be strongly serially-dependent (i.e. biased toward previously seen stimuli). Recently, serial dependencies in perception were proposed as a mechanism for perceptual stability, increasing the apparent continuity of the complex environments we experience in everyday life. For example, stable scene perception can be actively achieved by the visual system through global serial dependencies, a special kind of serial dependence between summary statistical representations. Serial dependence occurs also between emotional expressions, but it is highly selective for the same identity. Overall, these results further support the notion of serial dependence as a global, highly specialized, and purposeful mechanism. However, serial dependence could also be a deleterious phenomenon in unnatural or unpredictable situations, such as visual search in radiological scans, biasing current judgments toward previous ones even when accurate and unbiased perception is needed. For example, observers make consistent perceptual errors when classifying a tumor- like shape on the current trial, seeing it as more similar to the shape presented on the previous trial. In a separate localization test, observers make consistent errors when reporting the perceived position of an objects on the current trial, mislocalizing it toward the position in the preceding trial. Taken together, these results show two opposite sides of serial dependence; it can be a beneficial mechanism which promotes perceptual stability, but at the same time a deleterious mechanism which impairs our percept when fine recognition is needed.

If you are interested in this talk, please contact Artyom Zinchenko ( for the password.