Updating perceptual expectations as certainty diminishes [post]

Emily Thomas, Kirsten Rittershofer, Clare Press
2022 unpublished
Forming expectations about what we are likely to perceive often facilitates perception. We forge such expectations on the basis of strong statistical relationships between events in our environment. However, due to our ever-changing world these relationships often subsequently degrade or even disappear, yet it is unclear how these altered statistics influence perceptual expectations. We examined this question across three studies by training participants in perfect relationships between actions
more » ... (index or little finger abductions) and outcomes (clockwise or counter-clockwise gratings), before degrading the predictive relationship in a test phase – such that 'expected' events followed actions on 50-85% of trials and 'unexpected' events ensued on the remainder. Perceptual decisions about outcomes were faster and less error prone on expected than unexpected trials when predictive relationships remained high and reduced as the relationship diminished. Drift diffusion modelling indicated that these effects are explained by shifting the starting point in the evidence accumulation process as well as biasing the rate of evidence accumulation – with the former reflecting biases from statistics within the training session and the latter those of the test session. These findings demonstrate how perceptual expectations are updated as statistical certainty diminishes, with interacting influences speculatively dependent upon learning consolidation. We discuss how underlying mechanisms optimise the interaction between learning and perception – allowing our experiences to reflect a nuanced, ever-changing environment.
doi:10.31234/osf.io/z6xnd fatcat:hssl7mvf2bg6fcrimr7fkgnd6u