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Sensory and decisional factors in motion-induced blindness

The processes underlying motion-induced blindness (MIB) are widely debated. Ultimately, however, they must reduce to a sensitivity drop and/or to an upward shift of the decision criterion. The first possibility was tested by assessing the detection threshold for a contrast (or luminance) increment applied to the MIB target under its visible and suppressed phases. This was performed over a whole range of reference target contrasts (yielding the standard Threshold vs. Contrast [TvC] function) with a 2AFC staircase procedure. The second possibility was tested with a Yes/No procedure, allowing the assessment of both the sensitivities (d′) and decision criteria (c) yielded by four contrast increments applied to a fixed reference target contrast (the psychometric function). The 2AFC procedure yielded a global upward shift of the TvC function of about 5.3 dB (a factor of 1.84) under the suppressed phase. The Yes/No procedure yielded a commensurate d′ drop (of about 0.8 σ) under the suppressed phase with no change in the slope of the psychometric function and an upward shift of c of about 0.7 σ. The presently observed vertical shift (in log–log coordinates) of the TvC function in the suppressed phase is indicative of a divisive inhibition occurring after the transducing stage. The invariance of the psychometric function slope under the visible and suppressed MIB phases supports this conclusion. The present experiments cannot settle the issue of whether the upward shift of the decision criteria is yet another cause of the MIB or a consequence of its underlying inhibitory process. Instead, they make clear that MIB (and perhaps other unstable perceptual phenomena) is associated with both sensory and decisional processes.



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