Unraveling adaptation and mutual inhibition in perceptual rivalry

Functional Neurobiology and Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Journal of Vision (Impact Factor: 2.73). 02/2006; 6(4):304-10. DOI: 10.1167/6.4.1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT When the visual system is confronted with incompatible images in the same part of the visual field, the conscious percept switches back and forth between the rivaling stimuli. Such spontaneous flips provide important clues to the neuronal basis for visual awareness. The general idea is that two representations compete for dominance in a process of mutual inhibition, in which adaptation shifts the balance to and fro. The inherent nonlinear nature of the rivalrous flip-flop and its stochastic behavior, however, made it impossible to disentangle inhibition and adaptation. Here we report a general method to measure the time course, and asymmetries, of mechanisms involved in perceptual rivalry. Supported by model simulations, we show the dynamics of opponent interactions between mutual inhibition and adaptation. The findings not only provide new insight into the mechanism underlying rivalry but also offer new opportunities to study and compare a wide range of bistable processes in the brain and their relation to visual awareness.


Available from: Martin Lankheet, Jun 03, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It has been fifty years since Levelt's monograph On Binocular Rivalry (1965) was published, but its four propositions that describe the relation between stimulus strength and the phenomenology of binocular rivalry remain a benchmark for theorists and experimentalists even today. In this review, we will revisit the original conception of the four propositions and the scientific landscape in which this happened. We will also provide a brief update concerning distributions of dominance durations, another aspect of Levelt's monograph that has maintained a prominent presence in the field. In a critical evaluation of Levelt's propositions against current knowledge of binocular rivalry we will then demonstrate that the original propositions are not completely compatible with what is known today, but that they can, in a straightforward way, be modified to encapsulate the progress that has been made over the past fifty years. The resulting modified, propositions are shown to apply to a broad range of bistable perceptual phenomena, not just binocular rivalry, and they allow important inferences about the underlying neural systems. We argue that these inferences reflect canonical neural properties that play a role in visual perception in general, and we discuss ways in which future research can build on the work reviewed here to attain a better understanding of these properties. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Vision Research 03/2015; 109. DOI:10.1016/j.visres.2015.02.019 · 2.38 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Binocular rivalry provides a valuable means to study how sensory processing gives rise to subjective experiences because it involves a changing percept without any change in the visual stimulus. An important question, however, is whether visual awareness is necessary for binocular rivalry to emerge. To address this question, we presented conflicting random dot motion stimuli in the two eyes at luminance contrasts around perceptual threshold. We asked subjects to report continuously, via button presses, if they noticed any kind of motion in the display (be it coherent or not) and indicate which direction of motion they thought was dominant at any given instant even if they were unaware of any motion in the display. We biased the competition between the two dichoptic stimuli by changing the motion coherence in one eye while keeping it fixed in the other to test if this induced predictable changes in rivalry dynamics. We also probed the strength of the interocular suppression. Our data show that binocular rivalry continues even if subjects claim complete absence of visual motion awareness. This remarkable dissociation between visually guided behavior and visual awareness resembles the dissociation seen in other phenomena, such as blindsight and visual masking. Fluctuations in awareness that did occur were temporally linked to the dominance switches in a manner that is consistent with adaptation reciprocal-inhibition models of binocular rivalry.
    Journal of Vision 09/2014; 14(11). DOI:10.1167/14.11.2 · 2.73 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The combination of electrophysiological recordings with ambiguous visual stimulation made possible the detection of neurons that represent the content of subjective visual perception and perceptual suppression in multiple cortical and subcortical brain regions. These neuronal populations, commonly referred to as the neural correlates of consciousness, are more likely to be found in the temporal and prefrontal cortices as well as the pulvinar, indicating that the content of perceptual awareness is represented with higher fidelity in higher-order association areas of the cortical and thalamic hierarchy, reflecting the outcome of competitive interactions between conflicting sensory information resolved in earlier stages. However, despite the significant insights into conscious perception gained through monitoring the activities of single neurons and small, local populations, the immense functional complexity of the brain arising from correlations in the activity of its constituent parts suggests that local, microscopic activity could only partially reveal the mechanisms involved in perceptual awareness. Rather, the dynamics of functional connectivity patterns on a mesoscopic and macroscopic level could be critical for conscious perception. Understanding these emergent spatio-temporal patterns could be informative not only for the stability of subjective perception but also for spontaneous perceptual transitions suggested to depend either on the dynamics of antagonistic ensembles or on global intrinsic activity fluctuations that may act upon explicit neural representations of sensory stimuli and induce perceptual reorganization. Here, we review the most recent results from local activity recordings and discuss the potential role of effective, correlated interactions during perceptual awareness.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2014; 369(1641):20130534. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2013.0534 · 6.31 Impact Factor