A new paper from CogNovo was published this week in Scientific Reports; 'Similar but separate systems underlie perceptual bistability in vision and audition', by Sue Denham, David Farkas, Raymond van Ee, Mihaela Taranu, Zsuzsanna Kocsis, Marina Wimmer, David Carmel, and Istvan Winkler. This paper reports experimental investigations of perceptual bistability, the phenomenon in which perception switches involuntarily between different interpretations of an unchanging sensory input, and which is widely utilized to investigate perceptual processes and in consciousness research. The paper addresses a fundamental and long-standing question regarding perceptual bistability: are perceptual switches controlled by central, high-level mechanisms, or by distributed competition within sensory representational areas? By analysing the dynamics of perceptual switching in some detail the study provides strong evidence that switching is generated by task-/modality-dependent systems that are similar, but separate. As one referee put it, "The [paper] makes for a compelling case, which tidies up and in my opinion settles important issues in the behavioral literature, with clear relevance to fundamental questions for the neural bases of perception in general."
The experiments reported in the paper were conducted by CogNovo Fellow, Mihaela Taranu, as part of her PhD research "Individual differences in visual and auditory bistability", together with colleagues in Hungary, The Netherlands and Edinburgh. In her work Mihaela has been investigating commonalities between perceptual switching in different modalities, and also somewhat controversial questions regarding links to higher cognitive processes such as executive function and the CogNovo themes of cognitive innovation and creativity. Mihaela recently successfully defended her PhD thesis and is currently working at Cambridge University.