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Symbolic magnitude modulates perceptual strength in binocular rivalry
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 14:33 authored by Chris L E Paffen, Sarah Plukaard, Ryota Kanai
Basic aspects of magnitude (such as luminance contrast) are directly represented by sensory representations in early visual areas. However, it is unclear how symbolic magnitudes (such as Arabic numerals) are represented in the brain. Here we show that symbolic magnitude affects binocular rivalry: perceptual dominance of numbers and objects of known size increases with their magnitude. Importantly, variations in symbolic magnitude acted like variations in luminance contrast: we found that an increase in numerical magnitude of adding one lead to an equivalent increase in perceptual dominance as a contrast increment of 0.32%. Our results support the claim that magnitude is extracted automatically, since the increase in perceptual dominance came about in the absence of a magnitude-related task. Our findings show that symbolic, acculturated knowledge about magnitude interacts with visual perception and affects perception in a manner similar to lower-level aspects of magnitude such as luminance contrast.
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