Jasmina Stephanov, Kyoto University
The Role of 'A-ha' Experience in Preference for Visual Illusions and Ambiguous Images - Behavioural and Neural Accounts
Anticipation of upcoming sensory inputs and selection of plausible connections among ambiguous inputs is possibly mediated by the ‘pleasure of comprehension’. Following that notion, it was hypothesized that the pleasure mediating understanding of deceptive properties of illusory images can account for much of their positive appreciation. The ‘pleasure of comprehension’ was the most evident in the disambiguation of simple figures that minimize the role of objective stimulus properties. Further studies attempted to differentiate neural substrates involved in such perceptual pleasure. A distribution of opioid receptors in the ventral visual pathway, being the densest in ‘association cortex’, infers that the activity in these brain areas is associated with the endorphin release that correlates with positive affective responses. We tried to relate activity in parahippocampal place area (PPA) with the occurrence of perceptual ‘flips’ in bistable images. These images can be experienced as two-or-more equally valid and equally likely percepts, bringing the right amount of unpredictability to elicit a small scale ‘A-ha’ experience. This talk will further address specificity of the brain activity in the areas of occipito-temporal lobe, selectively responsive to scenes (PPA), faces (FFA) and objects (LOC) and how the pleasure response is related to perceptual reversals in ambiguous images.