Although the detection of visual bilateral symmetry has been claimed to be highly efficient, the possible involvement and function of visual memory in such efficient mechanisms has rarely been examined. We hypothesized that symmetry perception is rapid, as it can be achieved from rapidly decaying information of visible persistence. To test this hypothesis, we employed a temporal integration paradigm. A symmetric dot pattern was randomly divided into two asymmetric patterns and presented successively with a blank screen presented between patterns. Observers could detect symmetry when the two patterns were presented close in time (Experiment 1), indicating that observers perceived symmetry presumably utilizing visible persistence. In addition, the inverse-intensity effect of visible persistence (Di Lollo & Bischof, 1995) was evident in our temporal integration task of symmetry (Experiment 2). The results of the current study clearly demonstrate that the detection of symmetry can be achieved based on the visible persistence. The large capacity and high spatial precision of visible persistence might be adequate for the rapid and spatially global encoding of visual symmetry.
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