Impact Factor

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 30 October 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00462

Spatial frequency integration during active perception: perceptual hysteresis when an object recedes

  • 1Vision Sciences Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 2Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

As we move through the world, information about objects moves to different spatial frequencies. How the visual system successfully integrates information across these changes to form a coherent percept is thus an important open question. Here we investigate such integration using hybrid faces, which contain different images in low and high spatial frequencies. Observers judged how similar a hybrid was to each of its component images while walking toward or away from it or having the stimulus moved toward or away from them. We find that when the stimulus is approaching, observers act as if they are integrating across spatial frequency separately at each moment. However, when the stimulus is receding, observers show a perceptual hysteresis effect, holding on to details that are imperceptible in a static stimulus condition. Thus, observers appear to make optimal inferences by sticking with their previous interpretation when losing information but constantly reinterpreting their input when gaining new information.

Keywords: spatial frequency, hysteresis, hybrid images, perceptual organization

Citation: Brady TF and Oliva A (2012) Spatial frequency integration during active perception: perceptual hysteresis when an object recedes. Front. Psychology 3:462. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00462

Received: 22 August 2012; Paper pending published: 19 September 2012;
Accepted: 10 October 2012; Published online: 30 October 2012.

Edited by:

Frans Verstraten, The University of Sydney, Australia

Reviewed by:

Steven Dakin, University College London, UK
Karin Pilz, University of Aberdeen, UK

Copyright: © 2012 Brady and Oliva. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Timothy F. Brady, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, 702 William James Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. e-mail: tbrady@wjh.harvard.edu