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Curr Biol. 2005 Oct 11;15(19):1740-4.

The interaction between binocular rivalry and negative afterimages.

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Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.


Afterimage formation, historically attributed to retinal mechanisms, may also involve postretinal process. Consistent with this notion are results from experiments, reported here, investigating the interaction between binocular rivalry and negative afterimages (AIs). In Experiment 1, one eye was exposed to a grating never consciously experienced by the observer because this grating remained suppressed in rivalry throughout induction (the exclusively dominant stimulus was designed to preclude formation of an AI). As expected, the suppressed grating generated a vivid AI whose orientation could be accurately identified; not surprisingly, the strength of this AI varied with induction contrast. Experiment 2 revealed, however, that the strength of this AI produced during suppression was significantly weaker than the AI produced by that same stimulus when it was visible throughout the entire induction period, implying that some component of AI induction is susceptible to interocular suppression. In Experiment 3, AIs of dichoptic, orthogonally oriented gratings were induced in a way ensuring that one of the two gratings was exclusively dominant during the induction period. Dissimilar monocular AIs engaged in rivalry, as expected, but, surprisingly, the AI induced by the suppressed grating initially dominated. We offer two alternative accounts of this counterintuitive finding, both based on differential neural adaptation.

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