Rapid volitional control of apparent motion during percept generation

Julia A. Mossbridge, Laura Ortega, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


How rapidly can one voluntarily influence percept generation? The time course of voluntary visual-spatial attention is well studied, but the time course of intentional control over percept generation is relatively unknown. We investigated the latter question using "one-shot" apparent motion. When a vertical or horizontal pair of squares is replaced by its 90o-rotated version, the bottom-up signal is ambiguous. From this ambiguous signal, it is known that people can intentionally generate a percept of rotation in a desired direction (clockwise or counterclockwise). To determine the time course of this intentional control, we instructed participants to voluntarily induce rotation in a precued direction (clockwise rotation when a high-pitched tone was heard, and counterclockwise rotation when a low-pitched tone was heard), and then to report the direction of rotation that was actually perceived. We varied the delay between the instructional cue and the rotated frame (cue-lead time) from 0 to 1,067 ms. Intentional control became more effective with longer cue-lead times (asymptotically effective at 533 ms). Notably, intentional control was reliable even with a zero cue-lead time; control experiments ruled out response bias and the development of an auditory-visual association as explanations. This demonstrates that people can interpret an auditory cue and intentionally generate a desired motion percept surprisingly rapidly, entirely within the subjectively instantaneous moment in which the visual system constructs a percept of apparent motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1486-1495
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Apparent motion
  • Attentive tracking
  • Intentional control
  • Visual bistability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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