3 years ago

Lawful relation between perceptual bias and discriminability [Psychological and Cognitive Sciences]

Lawful relation between perceptual bias and discriminability [Psychological and Cognitive Sciences]
Alan A. Stocker, Xue-Xin Wei

Perception of a stimulus can be characterized by two fundamental psychophysical measures: how well the stimulus can be discriminated from similar ones (discrimination threshold) and how strongly the perceived stimulus value deviates on average from the true stimulus value (perceptual bias). We demonstrate that perceptual bias and discriminability, as functions of the stimulus value, follow a surprisingly simple mathematical relation. The relation, which is derived from a theory combining optimal encoding and decoding, is well supported by a wide range of reported psychophysical data including perceptual changes induced by contextual modulation. The large empirical support indicates that the proposed relation may represent a psychophysical law in human perception. Our results imply that the computational processes of sensory encoding and perceptual decoding are matched and optimized based on identical assumptions about the statistical structure of the sensory environment.

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