, Volume 65, Issue 8, pp 1285-1295

Reversible-figure perception: Mechanisms of intentional control

Abstract

Observers can exert a degree of intentional control over the perception of reversible figures. Also, the portion of the stimulus that is selected for primary or enhanced processing (focal-feature processing) influences how observers perceive a reversible figure. Two experiments investigated whether voluntary control over perception of a Necker cube could be explained in terms of intentionally selecting appropriate focal features within the stimulus for primary processing. In Experiment 1, varying observers’ intentions and the focus of primary processing produced additive effects on the percentage of time that one alternative was perceived. In Experiment 2, the effect of varying the focus of primary processing was eliminated by the use of a small cube, but the effect of intention was unaltered. The results indicate that intentional control over perception can be exerted independently of focal-feature processing, perhaps by top-down activation or priming of perceptual representations. The results also reveal the limits of intentional control.