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High Level Ensemble Perception


In a brief glance, we experience a rich percept of our visual environment, despite extremely limited visual capacity. What contributes to this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon? We propose that ensemble perception, the ability to extract statistical information from groups of redundant objects, is a substantial contributing factor to rich, complex visual perception. In support of this proposal, we demonstrate that ensemble perception includes high-level visual percepts, such as multi-viewpoint representations —not merely low-level or texture perception.

We also demonstrate that ensemble perception can bypass attentional and capacity bottlenecks, and successfully function when detailed, single item analysis is unfeasible. Finally, we demonstrate that ensemble representations are functionally beneficial to visual perception, conferring precision unmatched by single-item analysis and effectively operating when other visual processes are impaired. Our investigation of ensemble coding under different visual conditions and within different patient populations provides new evidence that ensemble codes are fundamental components of conscious visual perception

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