Abstract

Serial dependence—an attractive perceptual bias whereby a current stimulus is perceived to be similar to previously seen ones—is thought to represent the process that facilitates the stability and continuity of visual perception. Recent results demonstrate a neural signature of serial dependence in numerosity perception, emerging very early in the time course during perceptual processing. However, whether such a perceptual signature is retained after the initial processing remains unknown. Here, we address this question by investigating the neural dynamics of serial dependence using a recently developed technique that allowed a reactivation of hidden memory states. Participants performed a numerosity discrimination task during EEG recording, with task-relevant dot array stimuli preceded by a task-irrelevant stimulus inducing serial dependence. Importantly, the neural network storing the representation of the numerosity stimulus was perturbed (or pinged) so that the hidden states of that representation can be explicitly quantified. The results first show that a neural signature of serial dependence emerges early in the brain signals, starting soon after stimulus onset. Critical to the central question, the pings at a later latency could successfully reactivate the biased representation of the initial stimulus carrying the signature of serial dependence. These results provide one of the first pieces of empirical evidence that the biased neural representation of a stimulus initially induced by serial dependence is preserved throughout a relatively long period.

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