Visual motion retards alternations between conflicting perceptual interpretations

Neuron. 2003 Aug 28;39(5):869-78. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00495-1.


When the visual system is faced with conflicting or ambiguous stimulus information, visual perception fluctuates over time. We found that perceptual alternations are slowed when inducing stimuli move within the visual field, constantly engaging fresh, unadapted neural tissue. During binocular rivalry, dominance durations were longer when rival figures moved compared to when they were stationary, yielding lower alternation rates. Rate was not reduced, however, when observers tracked the moving targets, keeping the images on approximately the same retinal area. Alternations were reliably triggered when rival targets passed through a local region of the visual field preadapted to one of the rival targets. During viewing of a kinetic globe whose direction of rotation was ambiguous, observers experienced fewer alternations in perceived direction when the globe moved around the visual field or when the globe's axis of rotation changed continuously. Evidently, local neural adaptation is a key ingredient in the instability of perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Motion
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision Disparity / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*