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Critical slowing down and noise-induced intermittency in bistable perception: bifurcation analysis


Stochastic dynamics and critical slowing down were studied experimentally and numerically near the onset of dynamical bistability in visual perception under the influence of noise. Exploring the Necker cube as the essential example of an ambiguous figure, and using its wire contrast as a control parameter, we measured dynamical hysteresis in two coexisting percepts as a function of both the velocity of the parameter change and the background luminance. The bifurcation analysis allowed us to estimate the level of cognitive noise inherent to brain neural cells activity, which induced intermittent switches between different perception states. The results of numerical simulations with a simple energy model are in good qualitative agreement with psychological experiments.

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We thank K. M. Prado-Tabares for her help in the data collection and all voluntaries for their participation in the experiments. A. N. P. acknowledges support from CONACYT (Mexico).

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Correspondence to Alexander N. Pisarchik.

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This work has been supported by the COECYTJAL-UdeG through project 05-2010-1-783.

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Pisarchik, A.N., Jaimes-Reátegui, R., Magallón-García, C.D.A. et al. Critical slowing down and noise-induced intermittency in bistable perception: bifurcation analysis. Biol Cybern 108, 397–404 (2014).

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  • Perception
  • Bifurcation
  • Noise
  • Brain
  • Dynamics