The Depth and Selectivity of Suppression in Binocular Rivalry

Percept Psychophys. 2001 Feb;63(2):348-60. doi: 10.3758/bf03194475.


Binocular rivalry occurs when the two eyes are presented with incompatible stimuli and the perceived image alternates between the two stimuli. The aim of this study was to find out whether the periodic perceptual loss of a monocular stimulus during binocular rivalry is mirrored by a comparable loss of contrast sensitivity. We presented brief test stimuli to one eye while its conditioning stimulus was dominant or suppressed. The test stimuli were varied widely across four stimulus domains--namely, the relative stimulation of medium- and long-wavelength-sensitive cones, duration, spatial frequency, and grating orientation. The result in each case was the same. Suppression depended slightly or not at all on the type of test stimulus, and contrast sensitivity during suppression was around 64% of that during dominance. The effect of suppression on sensitivity is therefore very weak, relative to its effect on the perceived image. Furthermore, suppression was largely independent of the similarity between the conditioning and the test stimuli, indicating that our results are better explained by eye suppression than by stimulus suppression. A model is presented to account for the small, monocular sensitivity loss during suppression: It assumes that test detection precedes conditioning stimulus perception in the visual pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Contrast Sensitivity*
  • Depth Perception*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychophysics
  • Vision Disparity*