Galluzzi, F., Benedetto, A., Cicchini, G. M., & Burr, D. C.
Visual priming and serial dependence are mediated by separate mechanisms.
Journal of Vision, 22(10)
Perceptual history influences current perception, readily revealed by visual priming (the facilitation of responses on repeated presentations of similar stimuli) and by serial dependence (systematic biases toward the previous stimuli). We asked whether the two phenomena shared perceptual mechanisms. We modified the standard “priming of pop-out” paradigm to measure both priming and serial dependence concurrently. The stimulus comprised three grating patches, one or two red, and the other green. Participants identified the color singleton (either red or green), and reproduced its orientation. Trial sequences were designed to maximize serial dependence, and long runs of priming color and position. The results showed strong effects of priming, both on reaction times and accuracy, which accumulated steadily over time, as generally reported in the literature. The serial dependence effects were also strong, but did not depend on previous color, nor on the run length. Reaction times measured under various conditions of repetition or change of priming color or position were reliably correlated with imprecision in orientation reproduction, but reliably uncorrelated with magnitude of serial dependence. The results suggest that visual priming and serial dependence are mediated by different neural mechanisms. We propose that priming affects sensitivity, possibly via attention-like mechanisms, whereas serial dependence affects criteria, two orthogonal dimensions in the signal detection theory.