Illusion of visual stability through active perceptual serial dependence

Mauro Manassi* (Corresponding Author), David Whitney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Despite a noisy and ever-changing visual world, our perceptual experience seems remarkably stable over time. How does our visual system achieve this apparent stability? Here, we introduce a previously unknown visual illusion that shows direct evidence for an online mechanism continuously smoothing our percepts over time. As a result, a continuously seen physically changing object can be misperceived as unchanging. We find that online object appearance is captured by past visual experience up to 15 seconds ago. We propose that, because of an underlying active mechanism of serial dependence, the representation of the object is continuously merged over time, and the consequence is an illusory stability in which object appearance is biased toward the past. Our results provide a direct demonstration of the link between serial dependence in visual representations and perceived visual stability in everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalScience Advances
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2022


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