Commonalities and differences in visual and auditory multistability

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 are related to other measures of cognition, such as executive functions, creativity or personality. Moreover, we want to investigate whether perceptual switching manifests similar or different patterns in children and whether executive functions and creativity are associated with perceptual switching. Transcranial magnetic stimulation will be used to determine whether parietal cortex is causally involved in both visual and auditory multistability.


  1. David Carmel; Edinburgh University, UK (TMS experiments on modulating switching);
  2. István Winkler; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungary (Advanced analyses on individual differences in multistable perception);
  3. Raymond van Ee; Philips Research Labs, Netherlands (Multisensory experiments)
Research Fellow
Mihaela Taranu

Prof. Sue Denham, Dr. Marina Wimmer (Plymouth University),

István Winkler (Hungarian Academy of Sciences),

David Carmel (Edinburgh University),

Raymond van Ee (Philips)

Further Reading

  • 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). Characterizing switching behavior 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
  • Kanai, R., Carmel, D. Bahrami, B. & Rees, G. (2011). "Structural and functional fractionation of right superior parietal cortex in bistable perception." Current Biology 21(3): R106-R107.