Predicting information is considered to be an efficient strategy to minimise processing costs by exploiting regularities in the environment, and to allow for adaptation in case of irregularities, i.e. prediction errors. How such errors impact conscious perception is unclear, especially when predictions concern elementary visual features. Here we present results from a novel experimental approach allowing us to investigate the perceptual consequences of violated low-level predictions about moving objects. Observers were presented with two squares moving towards each other with a constant speed, and reported whether they were in contact or not before they disappeared. A compelling illusion of a gap between the squares occurred when the leading edges of those squares contacted briefly. The apparent gap was larger than a physical and stable separation of 2.6 min of arc between the squares. The illusion disappeared only when the contact did not violate extrapolations of the contrast edge between the moving object and the background. The pattern of results is consistent with an early locus of the effect and cannot be explained by decisional biases, guesses, top-down, attentional or masking effects. We suggest that violations of the contrast edge extrapolation in the direction of motion have strong perceptual consequences.
Jovanovic, L., Trichanh, M., Martin, B., & Giersch, A. (2023). Strong perceptual consequences of low-level visual predictions: A new illusion. Cognition, 230, Article 105279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105279