Individual differences in visual and auditory bistability

Investigate the relationships between switching rates in multistable perception, cognitive abilities, creativity and personality.


    • Experimental psychology
    • developmental psychology
    • neuroscience

When viewing or listening to ambiguous stimuli (stimuli with more than one possible interpretation) people experience changes in perceptual awareness in the absence of the stimulus change. Perceptual multistability is a useful tool for investigating the neural correlates of perceptual awareness without stimulus confounds; people switch between different perceptions of the same unchanging sensory signal.  Perceptual switching has been related to cognitive flexibility and the tendency to change one’s mind.

The aim of this project is to see whether perceptual switching patterns correspond to other measures of cognitive style, such as creativity or tolerance for monotony and at what age these different predispositions can be detected.Moreover, we will examine the neurocoletates of switching.


  1. David Carmel; Edinburgh University, UK (TMS experiments on modulating switching);
  2. István Winkler; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungary (EEG experiments on multistability);
  3. Raymond van Ee; Philips Research Labs, Netherlands (Multisensory experiments);
  4. Josephine Ross; University of Dundee, UK (Perceptual experiments on children).
Research Fellow
Mihaela Taranu

Sue Denham, Marina Wimmer (Plymouth University), István Winkler (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), David Carmel (Edinburgh University), Raymond van Ee (Philips), Josephine Ross (University of Dundee)

Further Reading
  • Denham, S.L., Winkler, I. (2013). Auditory Perceptual Organization. To appear in: Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organization, Oxford University Press, Edited by Johan Wagemans doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_100-1
  • Doherty, M. J., & Wimmer, M. C. (2005). Children's understanding of ambiguous figures: Which cognitive developments are necessary to experience reversal? Cognitive Development, 20, 407, 421 doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2005.05.003
  • Denham, S., Bendixen, A., Mill, R., Tóth, D., Wennekers, T., Coath, M., Winkler, I. (2012). Characterising switching behaviour in perceptual multi-stability. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 210(1), 79–92. doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.04.004
  • Denham, S., Bõhm, T. M., Bendixen, A., Szalárdy, O., Kocsis, Z., Mill, R., & Winkler, I. (2014). Stable individual characteristics in the perception of multiple embedded patterns in multistable auditory stimuli. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8. doi:10.3389/fnins.2014.00025