The perception of a stimulus can be influenced by previous perceptual experience, a phenomenon known as perceptual priming. However, there has been limited investigation on perceptual priming of shape perception of three-dimensional object structures defined by moving dots. Here we examined the perceptual priming of a 3D object shape defined purely by motion-in-depth cues (i.e., Shape-From-Motion, SFM) using a classic prime-target paradigm. The results from the first two experiments revealed a significant increase in accuracy when a "cloudy" SFM stimulus (whose object structure was difficult to recognize due to the presence of strong noise) was preceded by an unambiguous SFM that clearly defined the same transparent 3D shape. In contrast, results from Experiment 3 revealed no change in accuracy when a "cloudy" SFM stimulus was preceded by a static shape or a semantic word that defined the same object shape. Instead, there was a significant decrease in accuracy when preceded by a static shape or a semantic word that defined a different object shape. These results suggested that the perception of a noisy SFM stimulus can be facilitated by a preceding unambiguous SFM stimulus--but not a static image or a semantic stimulus--that defined the same shape. The potential neural and computational mechanisms underlying the difference in priming are discussed.

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Published in PLOS One, v. 10, no. 12, article e0144730, p. 1-14.

© 2015 Jiang et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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This work was supported by NIH grants AG19653 to RP and AG000986 to YJ. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.