Keeping postdiction simple

Conscious Cogn. 2015 Dec 15;38:205-16. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.10.001. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


Postdiction effects are phenomena in which a stimulus influences the appearance of events taking place before it. In metacontrast masking, for instance, a masking stimulus can render a target stimulus shown before the mask invisible. This and other postdiction effects have been considered incompatible with a simple explanation according to which (i) our perceptual experiences are delayed for only the time it takes for a distal stimulus to reach our sensory receptors and for our neural mechanisms to process it, and (ii) the order in which the processing of stimuli is completed corresponds with the apparent temporal order of stimuli. As a result, the theories that account for more than a single postdiction effect reject at least one of these theses. This paper presents a new framework for the timing of experiences-the non-linear latency difference view-in which the three most discussed postdiction effects-apparent motion, the flash-lag effect, and metacontrast masking-can be accounted for while simultaneously holding theses (i) and (ii). This view is grounded in the local reentrant processes, which are known to have a crucial role in perception. Accordingly, the non-linear latency difference view is both more parsimonious and more empirically plausible than the competing theories, all of which remain largely silent about the neural implementation of the mechanisms they postulate.

Keywords: Apparent motion; Flash-lag effect; Metacontrast masking; Non-linear latency difference view; Postdiction effects; Simple latency difference view.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*