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Using the past to estimate sensory uncertainty

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Citation

Beierholm, U., Rohe, T., Ferrari, A., Stegle, O., & Noppeney, U. (2020). Using the past to estimate sensory uncertainty. eLife, 1-42. doi:10.7554/eLife.54172.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-B9DC-2
Abstract
To form the most reliable percept of the environment, the brain needs to represent sensory uncertainty. Current theories of perceptual inference assume that the brain computes sensory uncertainty instantaneously and independently for each stimulus. In a series of psychophysics experiments human observers localized auditory signals that were presented in synchrony with spatially disparate visual signals. Critically, the visual noise changed dynamically over time with or without intermittent jumps. Our results show that observers integrate audiovisual inputs weighted by sensory reliability estimates that combine information from past and current signals as predicted by an optimal Bayesian learner or approximate strategies of exponential discounting Our results challenge classical models of perceptual inference where sensory uncertainty estimates depend only on the current stimulus. They demonstrate that the brain capitalizes on the temporal dynamics of the external world and estimates sensory uncertainty by combining past experiences with new incoming sensory signals.