Bistable perception

Necker_cubeBistable perception is a phenomenon caused by a visual stimulus, which generates two different perceptions in the subject who sees it. Bistable perception instances result in particular from:

– The Necker cube

– the Rubin’s vase

– The duck / rabbit illusion

Cases of bistable perception attract the interest because they raise questions about the causes that lead to the bistable phenomenon of perception, but also because there are individual differences in this type of sensitive perception. In particular, the frequency changes or the duration of one of the alternative perceptions vary considerably among individuals. This raises questions about the factors that induce this or that particular response with regard to this phenomenon, in a given individual.

The bistable perception can also be regarded as a special case of multi-stable perception, where only two different views are possible from the same stimulus.

One can also consider the two types of resulting alternative perceptions as two interpretations of the same visual stimulus. The bistable perception most commonly studied are visual ones, but there also exists instances of bistable perception in other sensory modalities: auditory, olfactory, etc.

 This text is part of a book under construction. (c) Paul Franceschi