Memory plays tricks on me: perceptual bias induced by memory reactivated size in Ebbinghaus illusion

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2015 Oct;161:104-9. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.08.011. Epub 2015 Sep 12.


The relationship between perceptual and memory processing is at the core of cognition. Growing evidence suggests reciprocal influences between them so that memory features should lead to an actual perceptual bias. In the present study, we investigate the reciprocal influence of perceptual and memory processing by further adapting the Ebbinghaus illusion and tested it in a psychophysical design. In a 2AFC (two-alternative forced choice) paradigm, the perceptual bias in the Ebbinghaus illusion was induced by a physical size (Experiment 1) or a memory reactivated size of the inducers (Experiment 2, the size was reactivated thanks to a color-size association). One test disk was presented on the left of the screen and was surrounded by six inducers with a large or small (perceptual or reactivated) size. The test disk varied in size and participants were asked to indicate whether this test disk was smaller or larger than a reference disk presented on the right of the screen (the reference disk was invariant in size). Participants' responses were influenced by the size of the inducers for the perceptual and the reactivated size of the inducers. These results provide new evidence for the influence of memory on perception in a psychophysics paradigm.

Keywords: Embodied cognition; Memory processes; Perception of size; Perception processes; Psychophysics; Visual illusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions* / physiology
  • Illusions* / psychology
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Size Perception*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult