Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Onset Rivalry: Factors That Succeed and Fail to Bias Selection

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Onset Rivalry: Factors That Succeed and Fail to Bias Selection

Article excerpt

Published online: 12 November 2014

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract This project examined whether previous visual history can bias perceptual dominance during onset rivalry. A predictive sequence of non-rivalrous stimuli preceded dichoptically presented rivalrous displays. One of the dichoptic images was the implied next step of the preceding sequence while the other was not. Observers reported their initial dominant percept. Across five experiments, we found that motion sequences biased perceptual selection such that a rivalrous stimulus that continued a motion sequence tended to dominate one that did not. However, signals generated by complex pattern of motion information or verbal-semantic information had no influence on selection. These results are consistent with the view that onset rivalry is an early phase of rivalry that is likely insensitive to modulation by factors originating beyond the visual system.

Keywords Onset binocular rivalry . Rivalry entrainment . Initial dominance . Motion . Prediction

The phenomenon of binocular rivalry is observed when two featurally dissimilar images, such as a house and a face, are presented dichoptically to corresponding retinal locations of the two eyes. Although the images stimulate the two retinae simultaneously, fusion fails and the percepts associated with each separate image alternate in temporal cycles of dominance and suppression (e.g., Levelt 1967; Wheatstone, 1838). These alternating percepts reflect fluctuations in neural activity that correspond specifically to each of the different perceptual outcomes (Leopold & Logothetis, 1996; Lin & He, 2009; Logothetis, 1998; Logothetis & Schall, 1989; Tong, Meng, & Blake, 2006). It is this potential for relating specific neural activity to conscious visual awareness that has made binocular rivalry a focus of study for many psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers (Breese, 1909; Crick & Koch, 2003; de Jong, Kourtzi, & van Ee, 2012a; Haynes, Deichmann, & Rees, 2005; Lee, Blake, & Heeger, 2005; O'Shea, Kommeier, & Roeber, 2013; Tong & Engel, 2001; Wheatstone, 1838; see Blake & Logothetis, 2002; Maier, Panagiotaropoulos, & Tsuchiya, 2012 for reviews; c.f., Blake, Brascamp, & Heeger, 2014).

The temporal dynamics of alternating dominance and suppression are a hallmark feature of binocular rivalry. If all other factors between two rivalrous images are held constant, then the two percepts tend to dominate visual awareness over time with approximately equal frequency, following a stochastic pattern (Levelt 1967; Fox & Herrmann, 1967; Kim, Grabowecky, & Suzuki, 2006). Introducing low-level featural asymmetries between the images, such as differences in contrast, luminance, motion, or contour density, however, alters the dynamics of binocular rivalry by causing the percept of the more intense stimulus to have shorter periods of suppression, and consequently longer periods of dominance (Breese, 1909; Fahle, 1982; Kaplan & Metlay, 1964; Levelt 1967; Mueller & Blake, 1989; Wheatstone, 1838). The transition between the dominant and suppressed images does not occur instantaneously. Rather, it tends to occur in a piece-meal fashion, whereby portions of the suppressed image appear in one region of the dominant image and spatially propagate across the rest of the image in a wavelike manner (Wilson, Blake, & Lee, 2001). Patterns of dominance and suppression continue for as long as the visual conflict is present.

Research on binocular rivalry over the last several decades has revealed that the successive periods of dominance and suppression can be separated into at least three general stages. First, when the two dichoptically presented images are presented for 150 ms or less, false fitsion occurs (Wolfe, 1983; see also Blake, Yang, & Westendorft, 1991), which is the perceived superimposition of the dichoptic stimuli (as distinct from optical fusion; Georgeson & Meese, 1997). …

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