Individual differences in the temporal dynamics of binocular rivalry and stimulus rivalry

Psychon Bull Rev. 2015 Apr;22(2):476-82. doi: 10.3758/s13423-014-0695-1.


Binocular rivalry and stimulus rivalry are two forms of perceptual instability that arise when the visual system is confronted with conflicting stimulus information. In the case of binocular rivalry, dissimilar monocular stimuli are presented to the two eyes for an extended period of time, whereas for stimulus rivalry the dissimilar monocular stimuli are exchanged rapidly and repetitively between the eyes during extended viewing. With both forms of rivalry, one experiences extended durations of exclusive perceptual dominance that fluctuate between the two stimuli. Whether these two forms of rivalry arise within different stages of visual processing has remained debatable. Using an individual-differences approach, we found that both stimulus rivalry and binocular rivalry exhibited same-shaped distributions of dominance durations among a sample of 30 observers and, moreover, that the dominance durations measured during binocular and stimulus rivalry were significantly correlated among our sample of observers. Furthermore, we found a significant, positive correlation between alternation rate in binocular rivalry and the incidence of stimulus rivalry. These results suggest that the two forms of rivalry may be tapping common neural mechanisms, or at least different mechanisms with comparable time constants. It remains to be learned just why the incidences of binocular rivalry and stimulus rivalry vary so greatly among people.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Color Perception*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Vision Disparity*
  • Vision, Binocular*