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Temporal dynamics of mirror-symmetry perception

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Recent studies have suggested that temporal dynamics rather than symmetrical motion-direction contribute to mirror-symmetry perception. Here we investigate temporal aspects of symmetry perception and implicitly, its temporal flexibility and limitations, by examining how symmetrical pattern elements are combined over time. Stimuli were dynamic dot-patterns consisting of either an on-going alternation of two images (sustained stimulus presentation) or just two images each presented once (transient stimulus presentation) containing different amounts of symmetry about the vertical axis. We varied the duration of the two images under five temporal-arrangement conditions: (a) whole patterns in which a symmetric pattern alternated with a noise pattern; (b) delayed halves-the halves of the symmetric and noise patterns were presented with temporal delay; (c) matched-pairs-two alternating images each containing equal amounts of symmetrical matched-pairs; (d) delayed matched-pairs-the same as arrangement (c), but with matched-pairs presented with delay; and (e) static-both images presented simultaneously as one. We found increased sensitivity in sustained compared to transient stimulus presentations and with synchronous compared to delayed matchedpairs stimuli. For the delayed conditions, sensitivity decreased gradually with longer image durations (> 60 ms), prominently for the transient stimulus presentations. We conclude that spatial correlations across-the-symmetry-midline can be integrated over time (~120 ms), and symmetry mechanisms can tolerate temporal delays between symmetric dot-pairs of up to ~60 ms.




Sharman, R. J., Gregersen, S., & Gheorghiu, E. (2018). Temporal dynamics of mirror-symmetry perception. Journal of Vision, 18(5).

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