Maldonado Moscoso, P. A., Burr, D. C., & Cicchini, G. M.

Serial dependence improves performance and biases confidence-based decisions

Journal of Vision, 23(7), 5.

https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.23.7.5 Download

Perception depends on both the current sensory input and on the preceding stimuli history, a mechanism referred to as serial dependence (SD). One interesting, and somewhat controversial, question is whether serial dependence originates at the perceptual stage, which should lead to a sensory improvement, or at a subsequent decisional stage, causing solely a bias. Here, we studied the effects of SD in a novel manner by leveraging on the human capacity to spontaneously assess the quality of sensory information. Two noisy-oriented Gabor stimuli were simultaneously presented along with two bars of the same orientation as the Gabor stimuli. Participants were asked to choose which Gabor stimulus to judge and then make a forced-choice judgment of its orientation by selecting the appropriate response bar. On all trials, one of the Gabor stimuli had the same orientation as the Gabor in the same position on the previous trial. We explored whether continuity in orientation and position affected choice and accuracy. Results show that continuity of orientation leads to a persistent (up to four back) accuracy advantage and a higher preference in the selection of stimuli with the same orientation, and this advantage accumulates over trials. In contrast, analysis of the continuity of the selected position indicated that participants had a strong tendency to choose stimuli in the same position, but this behavior did not lead to an improvement in accuracy.