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Dynamic Re-calibration of Perceived Size in Fovea and Periphery through Predictable Size Changes

Valsecchi, M. & Gegenfurtner, K.R.
Current Biology, 2016, bol. 26 pp. 59-63, d.o.i.

The same object produces quite distinct images in the cortical representation, depending on whether it is looked at foveally or with the periphery, yet some form of size constancy prevents us from experiencing objects inflating or deflating as we move our eyes. According to the prominent sensorimotor account of vision by O’Regan and Noë [ 1 ], we constantly learn to discount the predictable sensory effects of motor actions, such as the projection of a stimulus on a larger cortical area as it gets foveated. Although previous studies have shown that foveal and parafoveal inputs can be associated in visual memory [ 2, 3 ], trans-saccadic prediction error could in principle re-calibrate even the appearance of peripheral and foveal stimuli. Here we introduce a new paradigm that induces such changes in the relative appearance of peripheral and foveal stimuli when directly compared. Repeated exposure to a trans-saccadic change in size, though unnoticed by most observers, induced a substantial modification of perceived size that lasted at least 1 day. Prediction is not limited to the motor system but can also occur for the sensory effects of external events, such as stimulus motion. We show that perceptual re-calibration can occur in the absence of eye movements if the change in size occurs predictably while objects move across the visual field. Perceptual uniformity emerges due to the continuously updated prediction of foveal appearance based on peripheral appearance.