Perceptual rivalry with vibrotactile stimuli

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2021 Aug;83(6):2613-2624. doi: 10.3758/s13414-021-02278-1. Epub 2021 Apr 22.


In perceptual rivalry, ambiguous sensory information leads to dynamic changes in the perceptual interpretation of fixed stimuli. This phenomenon occurs when participants receive sensory stimuli that support two or more distinct interpretations; this results in spontaneous alternations between possible perceptual interpretations. Perceptual rivalry has been widely studied across different sensory modalities including vision, audition, and to a limited extent, in the tactile domain. Common features of perceptual rivalry across various ambiguous visual and auditory paradigms characterize the randomness of switching times and their dependence on input strength manipulations (Levelt's propositions). It is still unclear whether the general characteristics of perceptual rivalry are preserved with tactile stimuli. This study aims to introduce a simple tactile stimulus capable of generating perceptual rivalry and explores whether general features of perceptual rivalry from other modalities extend to the tactile domain. Our results confirm that Levelt's proposition II extends to tactile bistability, and that the stochastic characteristics of irregular perceptual alternations agree with non-tactile modalities. An analysis of correlations between subsequent perceptual phases reveals a significant positive correlation at lag 1 (as found in visual bistability), and a negative correlation for lag 2 (in contrast with visual bistability).

Keywords: Correlation analysis; Levelt’s propositions; Perceptual rivalry; Scaling property; Vibrotactile.

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception*
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Touch
  • Vision, Binocular
  • Visual Perception*