Bistable perception: neural bases and usefulness in psychological research

  • Guillermo Andrés Rodríguez Martínez Escuela de Publicidad - Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogotá, Colombia. Facultad de Psicología - Universidad de San Buenaventura de Medellín, Colombia.
  • Henry Castillo Parra Facultad de Psicología - Universidad de San Buenaventura de Medellín, Colombia.
Keywords: bistable perception, visual perception, bistable images, psychological research.


Bistable images have the possibility of being perceived in two different ways. Due to their physical characteristics, these visual stimuli allow two different perceptions, associated with top-down and bottom-up modulating processes. Based on an extensive literature review, the present article aims to gather the conceptual models and the foundations of perceptual bistability. This theoretical article compiles not only notions that are intertwined with the understanding of this perceptual phenomenon, but also the diverse classification and uses of bistable images in psychological research, along with a detailed explanation of the neural correlates that are involved in perceptual reversibility. We conclude that the use of bistable images as a paradigmatic resource in psychological research might be extensive. In addition, due to their characteristics, visual bistable stimuli have the potential to be implemented as a resource in experimental tasks that seek to understand diverse concerns linked essentially to attention, sensory, perceptual and memory processes.

Author Biography

Guillermo Andrés Rodríguez Martínez, Escuela de Publicidad - Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogotá, Colombia. Facultad de Psicología - Universidad de San Buenaventura de Medellín, Colombia.
Assistant lecturer, School of Advertising


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