Spatio-temporal dynamics of the visual system revealed in binocular rivalry

Neuroscience Letters 381 (1-2):63-68 (2005)
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Abstract

From the evolutionary viewpoint, animals need to monitor the surrounding environment and capture salient features, such as motion, for survival. The visual system is highly developed for monitoring a wide area of visual field and capturing such salient features. In humans and primates, there is a wide binocular field, suggesting a necessity of integrating the images from the two eyes. Binocular rivalry [R. Blake, A neural theory of binocular rivalry, Psychol. Rev. 96 (1989) 145–167; R. Blake, N.K. Logothetis, Visual competition, Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 3 (2002) 13–21], where incompatible inputs from the two eyes compete to emerge in the subject’s visual percept, has been shown to exhibit highly adaptive behavior [I. Kovacs, T.V. Parathomas, M. Yang, A. Feher, When the brain changes its mind: interocular grouping during binocular rivalry. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93 (1996) 15508–15511; N.K. Logothetis, Single units and conscious vision, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. Biol. Sci. 353 (1998) 1801–1818]. Here we investigated the spatio-temporal dynamics of the ocular dominance pattern in binocular rivalry under conditions where conflicting salient features were presented in a temporally varying manner. We found a striking example of the detailed structure of the dominance wave propagation, by using a spatio-temporal sampling method. The data show in detail the ability of the visual system to dynamically adapt to the changing stimuli in the context of the massively parallel visual field. We show by model prediction that the globally coherent dominance change in the presence of multiple stimuli can be explained by a mechanism based on local saliency comparison. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved

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