Fast Temporal Dynamics of Visual Cue Integration

The integration of information from different sensors, cues, or modalities lies at the very heart of perception. We are studying adaptive phenomena in visual cue integration. To this end, we have designed a visual tracking task, where subjects track a target object among distractors and try to identify the target after an occlusion. Objects are defined by three different attributes (color, shape, size) which change randomly within a single trial. When the attributes differ in their reliability (two change frequently, one is stable), our results show that subjects dynamically adapt their processing. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that subjects rapidly re-weight the information provided by the different cues by emphasizing the information from the stable cue. This effect seems to be automatic, ie not requiring subjects' awareness of the differential reliabilities of the cues. The hypothesized re-weighting seems to take place in about 1 s. Our results suggest that cue integration can exhibit adaptive phenomena on a very fast time scale. We propose a probabilistic model with temporal dynamics that accounts for the observed effect.

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