Discounting mechanism underlies extinction illusion

Conscious Cogn. 2021 Apr;90:103100. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2021.103100. Epub 2021 Feb 25.


Humans can perceive a coherent visual scene despite a low spatial resolution in peripheral vision. How does the visual system determine whether an object exists in the periphery? We addressed this question by focusing on the extinction illusion in which a disk becomes subjectively invisible when presented at the intersection of grids. We hypothesized that the disk would go unnoticed when the stimuli with and without the disk produced the same strength of visual signals. The visual system would miss the disk by confounding the target signals with the intersection signals that should be discounted. Computational analysis revealed that the energy ratio between the stimuli with and without the disk decreased with stimulus eccentricity and such energy ratio could successfully explain the observer's d' to detect the disk. These results indicate that the discounting mechanism relying on stimulus energy determines the awareness toward a peripheral object.

Keywords: Center-surround antagonism; Difference of Gaussians; Extinction illusion; Peripheral vision; Visual awareness; Visual perception.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Visual Perception