G.M. Cicchini, K. Mikellidou, D.C. Burr

Serial Dependence in Perception

Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2024. 75:9.1–9.26

https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-021523- 104939 Download

Much evidence has shown that perception is biased towards previously presented similar stimuli, an effect recently termed serial dependence. Serial dependence affects nearly every aspect of perception, often causing gross perceptual distortions, especially for weak and ambiguous stimuli. Despite unwanted side-effects, empirical evidence and Bayesian modeling show that serial dependence acts to improve efficiency and is generally beneficial to the system. Consistent with models of predictive coding, the Bayesian priors of serial dependence are generated at high levels of cortical analysis, incorporating much perceptual experience, but feed back to lower sensory areas. These feedback loops may drive oscillations in the alpha range, linked strongly with serial dependence. The discovery of top-down predictive perceptual processes is not new, but the new, more quantitative approach characterizing serial dependence promises to lead to a deeper understanding of predictive perceptual processes and their underlying neural mechanisms.