Binocular rivalry from luminance and contrast

Vision Res. 2020 Oct:175:41-50. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2020.06.006. Epub 2020 Jul 18.


Binocular rivalry is the phenomenon that when two incompatible images are simultaneously presented, one to each eye, the two images compete with each other to be the dominant percept. Studying the underlying neural mechanisms of binocular rivalry is useful for understanding the mechanisms of interocular inhibition. Levelt's Propositions, a set of four propositions that were originally published over fifty years ago, are not only useful for characterizing the perceptual dynamics of binocular rivalry, but can also provide a metric for assessing the common or differential neural mechanisms of binocular rivalry when diverse stimulus types are used. In the present study, we conducted a series of psychophysics experiments, where we compared the rivalry dynamics of two quite different types of stimuli. Orthogonal gratings, a classic type of rivalry stimulus, were contrasted with luminance patches, a type of rivalry stimulus that is relatively less studied. Our results showed that, similar to the orthogonal gratings, the alternate percepts in luminance-only rivalry were described by the modified Levelt's Propositions, despite the clearly slower alternation rates for luminance patches. However, unlike the mixed percepts observed during transitions between oriented gratings, fusion percepts during luminance rivalry were common, could be lustrous, and obeyed the same Propositions, suggesting a regime of tri-stability. Overall, both types of rivalry are consistent with recent models that posit separate binocular and monocular channels embedded within neural circuits that also accomplish contrast normalization. Finally, luminance rivalry is discussed in the contexts of binocular summation and suppression, as well as Fechner's paradox.

Keywords: Alternation rate; Binocular; Bistable; Levelt; Lustre; Propositions; Rivalry; Suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dominance, Ocular*
  • Humans
  • Psychophysics
  • Vision Disparity
  • Vision, Binocular*
  • Visual Perception