Hysteresis in Audiovisual Synchrony Perception

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 16;10(3):e0119365. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119365. eCollection 2015.


The effect of stimulation history on the perception of a current event can yield two opposite effects, namely: adaptation or hysteresis. The perception of the current event thus goes in the opposite or in the same direction as prior stimulation, respectively. In audiovisual (AV) synchrony perception, adaptation effects have primarily been reported. Here, we tested if perceptual hysteresis could also be observed over adaptation in AV timing perception by varying different experimental conditions. Participants were asked to judge the synchrony of the last (test) stimulus of an AV sequence with either constant or gradually changing AV intervals (constant and dynamic condition, respectively). The onset timing of the test stimulus could be cued or not (prospective vs. retrospective condition, respectively). We observed hysteretic effects for AV synchrony judgments in the retrospective condition that were independent of the constant or dynamic nature of the adapted stimuli; these effects disappeared in the prospective condition. The present findings suggest that knowing when to estimate a stimulus property has a crucial impact on perceptual simultaneity judgments. Our results extend beyond AV timing perception, and have strong implications regarding the comparative study of hysteresis and adaptation phenomena.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This work was supported by a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (IRG)-249222, an European Research Council-Starting Grant (ERC-YStG)-263584 and an National Funding Agency for Research Grant (ANR)-R10JCJC-1904 to V.vW, a scholarship from the doctoral school Cerveau Cognition Comportement (ED3C, Paris, France) to J.R.M. and from the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) and the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA) to A.K. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.