Reference Repulsion Is Not a Perceptual Illusion
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PI Group Predictive Brain
SW OZ DCC CO
Key wordsreference repulsion; post-perceptual bias; orientation perception; perceptual bias; perceptual decision-making
Perceptual decisions are often influenced by contextual factors. For instance, when engaged in a visual discrimination task against a reference boundary, subjective reports about the judged stimulus feature are biased away from the boundary – a phenomenon termed reference repulsion. Until recently, this phenomenon has been thought to reflect a perceptual illusion regarding the appearance of the stimulus, but new evidence suggests that it may rather reflect a post-perceptual decision bias. To shed light on this issue, we examined whether and how orientation judgments affect perceptual appearance. In a first experiment, we confirmed that after judging a grating stimulus against a discrimination boundary, the subsequent reproduction response was indeed repelled from the boundary. To investigate the perceptual nature of this bias, in a second experiment we measured the perceived orientation of the grating stimulus more directly, in comparison to a reference stimulus visible at the same time. Although we did observe a small repulsive bias away from the boundary, this bias was explained by random trial-by-trial fluctuations in sensory representations together with classical stimulus adaptation effects and did not reflect a systematic bias due to the discrimination judgment. Overall, the current study indicates that discrimination judgments do not elicit a perceptual illusion and points towards a post-perceptual locus of reference repulsion.