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The role of perceptual processing in the oddball effect revealed by the Thatcher illusion.

Vision Research 2024 April 11
When a novel stimulus (oddball) appears after repeated presentation of an identical stimulus, the oddball is perceived to last longer than the repeated stimuli, a phenomenon known as the oddball effect. We investigated whether the perceptual or physical differences between the repeated and oddball stimuli are more important for the oddball effect. To manipulate the perceptual difference while keeping their physical visual features constant, we used the Thatcher illusion, in which an inversion of a face hinders recognition of distortion in its facial features. We found that the Thatcherized face presented after repeated presentation of an intact face induced a stronger oddball effect when the faces were upright than when they were inverted (Experiment 1). However, the difference in the oddball effect between face orientations was not observed when the intact face was presented as the oddball after repeated presentation of a Thatcherized face (Experiment 2). These results were replicated when participants performed both the intact-repeated and Thatcherized-repeated conditions in a single experiment (Experiment 3). Two control experiments confirmed that the repeated presentation of the preceding stimuli is necessary for the difference in duration distortion to occur (Experiments 4 and 5). The results suggest the considerable role of perceptual processing in the oddball effect. We discuss the discrepancy in the results between the intact-repeated and Thatcherized-repeated conditions in terms of predictive coding.

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