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PLoS One. 2008 Jan 16;3(1):e1429. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001429.

The role of temporally coarse form processing during binocular rivalry.

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Department of Physics, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Presenting the eyes with spatially mismatched images causes a phenomenon known as binocular rivalry-a fluctuation of awareness whereby each eye's image alternately determines perception. Binocular rivalry is used to study interocular conflict resolution and the formation of conscious awareness from retinal images. Although the spatial determinants of rivalry have been well-characterized, the temporal determinants are still largely unstudied. We confirm a previous observation that conflicting images do not need to be presented continuously or simultaneously to elicit binocular rivalry. This process has a temporal limit of about 350 ms, which is an order of magnitude larger than the visual system's temporal resolution. We characterize this temporal limit of binocular rivalry by showing that it is independent of low-level information such as interocular timing differences, contrast-reversals, stimulus energy, and eye-of-origin information. This suggests the temporal factors maintaining rivalry relate more to higher-level form information, than to low-level visual information. Systematically comparing the role of form and motion-the processing of which may be assigned to ventral and dorsal visual pathways, respectively-reveals that this temporal limit is determined by form conflict rather than motion conflict. Together, our findings demonstrate that binocular conflict resolution depends on temporally coarse form-based processing, possibly originating in the ventral visual pathway.

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