The Lightness/Pitch Crossmodal Correspondence Modulates the Rubin Face/Vase Perception

Multisens Res. 2021 Jun 16;1-21. doi: 10.1163/22134808-bja10054. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

We examine whether crossmodal correspondences (CMCs) modulate perceptual disambiguation by considering the influence of lightness/pitch congruency on the perceptual resolution of the Rubin face/vase (RFV). We randomly paired a black-and-white RFV (black faces and white vase, or vice versa) with either a high or low pitch tone and found that CMC congruency biases the dominant visual percept. The perceptual option that was CMC-congruent with the tone (white/high pitch or black/low pitch) was reported significantly more often than the perceptual option CMC-incongruent with the tone (white/low pitch or black/high pitch). However, the effect was only observed for stimuli presented for longer and not shorter durations suggesting a perceptual effect rather than a response bias, and moreover, we infer an effect on perceptual reversals rather than initial percepts. We found that the CMC congruency effect for longer-duration stimuli only occurred after prior exposure to the stimuli of several minutes, suggesting that the CMC congruency develops over time. These findings extend the observed effects of CMCs from relatively low-level feature-based effects to higher-level object-based perceptual effects (specifically, resolving ambiguity) and demonstrate that an entirely new category of crossmodal factors (CMC congruency) influence perceptual disambiguation in bistability.