Neural correlates of binocular rivalry in the human lateral geniculate nucleus.
ABSTRACT: When dissimilar images are presented to the two eyes, they compete for perceptual dominance so that only one image is visible at a time while the other one is suppressed. Neural correlates of such binocular rivalry have been found at multiple stages of visual processing, including striate and extrastriate visual cortex. However, little is known about the role of subcortical processing during binocular rivalry. Here we used fMRI to measure neural activity in the human LGN while subjects viewed contrast-modulated gratings presented dichoptically. Neural activity in the LGN correlated strongly with the subjects' reported percepts, such that activity increased when a high-contrast grating was perceived and decreased when a low-contrast grating was perceived. Our results provide evidence for a functional role of the LGN in binocular rivalry and suggest that the LGN, traditionally viewed as the gateway to the visual cortex, may be an early gatekeeper of visual awareness.
Project description:When one views a square-wave grating and dichoptically changes the average luminance or contrast of the monocular images, at least three perceptual phenomena might occur. These are the Venetian blind effect, or a perceived rotation of the bars around individual vertical axes; binocular luster, or a perceived shimmering; and binocular rivalry, or an alternating perception between the views of the two eyes. Perception of luster and rivalry occur when the "light bars" in the grating dichoptically straddle the background luminance (one eye's image has a higher luminance than the background and the other eye's image has a lower luminance than the background), with little impact from the "dark bars." Perception of rotation, on the other hand, is related to average luminance or contrast disparity, independent of whether or not the "light bars" straddle the background luminance. The patterns for perceived rotation versus binocular luster and binocular rivalry suggest at least two separate mechanisms in the visual system for processing luminance and contrast information over and above their differing physiological states suggested by their different appearances. While luster and rivalry depend directly on the relation between stimuli and the background, perceived rotation depends on the magnitude of the luminance or contrast disparity, as described by the generalized difference model.
Project description:When dissimilar images are presented one to each eye, we do not see both images; rather, we see one at a time, alternating unpredictably. This is called binocular rivalry, and it has recently been used to study brain processes that correlate with visual consciousness, because perception changes without any change in the sensory input. Such studies have used various types of images, but the most popular have been gratings: sets of bright and dark lines of orthogonal orientations presented one to each eye. We studied whether using cardinal rival gratings (vertical, 0°, and horizontal, 90°) versus oblique rival gratings (left-oblique, -45°, and right-oblique, 45°) influences early neural correlates of visual consciousness, because of the oblique effect: the tendency for visual performance to be greater for cardinal gratings than for oblique gratings. Participants viewed rival gratings and pressed keys indicating which of the two gratings they perceived, was dominant. Next, we changed one of the gratings to match the grating shown to the other eye, yielding binocular fusion. Participants perceived the rivalry-to-fusion change to the dominant grating and not to the other, suppressed grating. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we found neural correlates of visual consciousness at the P1 for both sets of gratings, as well as at the P1-N1 for oblique gratings, and we found a neural correlate of the oblique effect at the N1, but only for perceived changes. These results show that the P1 is the earliest neural activity associated with visual consciousness and that visual consciousness might be necessary to elicit the oblique effect.
Project description:Presenting different images to each eye triggers 'binocular rivalry' in which one image is visible and the other suppressed, with the visible image alternating every second or so. We previously showed that binocular rivalry between cross-oriented gratings is altered when the fingertip explores a grooved stimulus aligned with one of the rivaling gratings: the matching visual grating's dominance duration was lengthened and its suppression duration shortened. In a more robust test, we here measure visual contrast sensitivity during rivalry dominance and suppression, with and without exploration of the grooved surface, to determine if rivalry suppression strength is modulated by touch. We find that a visual grating undergoes 45% less suppression when observers touch an aligned grating, compared to a cross-oriented one. Touching an aligned grating also improved visual detection thresholds for the 'invisible' suppressed grating by 2.4 dB, relative to a vision-only condition. These results show that congruent haptic stimulation prevents a visual stimulus from becoming deeply suppressed in binocular rivalry. Moreover, because congruent touch acted on the phenomenally invisible grating, this visuo-haptic interaction must precede awareness and likely occurs early in visual processing.
Project description:It has been suggested that differences in binocular rivalry switching rates and mixed percept durations in ASD could serve as a biomarker of excitation/inhibition imbalances in the autistic brain. If so, one would expect these differences to extend to neurotypical groups with high vs. low levels of autistic tendency. Previous studies did not detect any correlations between binocular rivalry dynamics and Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores in neurotypical control groups; however it is unclear whether this was due to the characteristics of the rivalry stimuli that were used. We further investigated this possibility in a sample of neurotypical young adults. The binocular rivalry stimuli were simple gratings, complex objects, or scrambled objects, which were presented dichoptically, either at fixation or in the periphery. A Bayesian correlation analysis showed that individuals with higher AQ scores tended to have lower perceptual switching rates for the centrally presented, simple grating rival stimuli. However, there was no evidence of a relationship between AQ and switching rates, reversal rates or mixed percept durations for any of the other binocular rivalry conditions. Overall, our findings suggest that in the non-clinical population, autistic personality traits are not a strong predictor of binocular rivalry dynamics.
Project description:Binocular rivalry is a phenomenon in which perception spontaneously shifts between two different images that are dichoptically presented to the viewer. By elucidating the cortical networks responsible for these stochastic fluctuations in perception, we can potentially learn much about the neural correlates of visual awareness. We obtained concurrent EEG-fMRI data for a group of 20 healthy human subjects during the continuous presentation of dichoptic visual stimuli. The two eyes' images were tagged with different temporal frequencies so that eye specific steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP) signals could be extracted from the EEG data for direct comparison with changes in fMRI BOLD activity associated with binocular rivalry. We additionally included a smooth replay condition that emulated the perceptual transitions experienced during binocular rivalry as a control stimulus. We evaluated a novel SSVEP-informed fMRI analysis in this study in order to delineate the temporal dynamics of rivalry-related BOLD activity from both an electrophysiological and behavioral perspective. In this manner, we assessed BOLD activity during rivalry that was directly correlated with peaks and crosses of the two rivaling, frequency-tagged SSVEP signals, for comparison with BOLD activity associated with subject reported perceptual transitions. Our findings point to a critical role of a right lateralized fronto-parietal network in the processing of bistable stimuli, given that BOLD activity in the right superior/inferior parietal lobules was significantly elevated throughout binocular rivalry and in particular during perceptual transitions, compared with the replay condition. Based on the SSVEP-informed analysis, rivalry was further associated with significantly enhanced BOLD suppression in the posterior mid-cingulate cortex during perceptual transitions, compared with SSVEP crosses. Overall, this work points to a careful interplay between early visual areas, the right posterior parietal cortex and the mid-cingulate cortex in mediating the spontaneous perceptual changes associated with binocular rivalry and has significant implications for future multimodal imaging studies of perception and awareness.
Project description:Glaucoma is considered a progressive optic neuropathy because of the damage and death of the retinal ganglion cells. It is also a neurodegenerative disease because it affects neural structures in the visual system and beyond, including the corpus callosum-the largest white matter structure involved in inter-hemispheric transfer of information. In this study we probed the dysfunction of the inter-hemispheric processing in patients with mild glaucoma using the phenomenon of binocular rivalry. Patients with mild glaucoma and no measurable visual field defects and age-matched controls underwent a thorough visual assessment. Then they participated in a series of psychophysical tests designed to examine the binocular rivalry derived from intra- and inter-hemispheric processing. Static horizontal and vertical sinewave gratings were presented dichoptically using a double-mirror stereoscope in 3 locations: centrally, to probe inter-hemispheric processing, and peripherally to the left or to the right, to probe intra-hemispheric processing. Although the two groups were matched in functional measures, rivalry rate of the glaucoma group was significantly lower than that of the control group for the central location, but not for the peripheral location. These results were driven mainly by the patients with normal tension glaucoma whose average rivalry rate for the central location (from which information reaches the two hemispheres) was almost half (46% lower) that of the controls. These results indicate a dysfunction in inter-hemispheric transfer in mild glaucoma that can be detected behaviourally before any changes in standard functional measures.
Project description:Individuals possessing absolute pitch (AP) are able to identify a given musical tone or to reproduce it without reference to another tone. The present study sought to learn whether this exceptional auditory ability impacts visual perception under stimulus conditions that provoke visual competition in the form of binocular rivalry. Nineteen adult participants with 3-19 years of musical training were divided into two groups according to their performance on a task involving identification of the specific note associated with hearing a given musical pitch. During test trials lasting just over half a minute, participants dichoptically viewed a scrolling musical score presented to one eye and a drifting sinusoidal grating presented to the other eye; throughout the trial they pressed buttons to track the alternations in visual awareness produced by these dissimilar monocular stimuli. On "pitch-congruent" trials, participants heard an auditory melody that was congruent in pitch with the visual score, on "pitch-incongruent" trials they heard a transposed auditory melody that was congruent with the score in melody but not in pitch, and on "melody-incongruent" trials they heard an auditory melody completely different from the visual score. For both groups, the visual musical scores predominated over the gratings when the auditory melody was congruent compared to when it was incongruent. Moreover, the AP participants experienced greater predominance of the visual score when it was accompanied by the pitch-congruent melody compared to the same melody transposed in pitch; for non-AP musicians, pitch-congruent and pitch-incongruent trials yielded equivalent predominance. Analysis of individual durations of dominance revealed differential effects on dominance and suppression durations for AP and non-AP participants. These results reveal that AP is accompanied by a robust form of bisensory interaction between tonal frequencies and musical notation that boosts the salience of a visual score.
Project description:Nearly all of the information that reaches the primary visual cortex (V1) of the brain passes from the retina through the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus. Although the LGN's role in relaying feedforward signals from the retina to the cortex is well understood [1, 2], the functional role of the extensive feedback it receives from the cortex has remained elusive [3-6]. Here, we investigated whether corticothalamic feedback may contribute to perceptual processing in the LGN in a manner that is distinct from top-down effects of attention [7-10]. We used high-resolution fMRI at 7 Tesla to simultaneously measure responses to orientation-defined figures in the human LGN and V1. We found robust enhancement of perceptual figures throughout the early visual system, which could be distinguished from the effects of covert spatial attention [11-13]. In a second experiment, we demonstrated that figure enhancement occurred in the LGN even when the figure and surrounding background were presented dichoptically (i.e., to different eyes). As binocular integration primarily occurs in V1 [14, 15], these results implicate a mechanism of automatic, contextually sensitive feedback from binocular visual cortex underlying figure-ground modulation in the LGN. Our findings elucidate the functional mechanisms of this core function of the visual system [16-18], which allows people to segment and detect meaningful figures in complex visual environments. The involvement of the LGN in this rich, contextually informed visual processing-despite showing minimal feedforward selectivity for visual features [19, 20]-underscores the role of recurrent processing at the earliest stages of visual processing.
Project description:When two incompatible images are shown separately to each eye, a perceptual process known as binocular rivalry occurs by which the two images compete for awareness. The site of competition for binocular rivalry has been a topic of debate, and recent theories are that it may occur either at low levels of the visual system where the inputs from the two eyes are combined or at high levels of the visual system where the two images are processed. One of the major pieces of evidence for a high-level image account of rivalry is a phenomenon known as stimulus rivalry, in which two competing stimuli are swapped between the eyes at 3 Hz. However, there is little available neurophysiological evidence for a neural substrate for this high-level competition. Here, we used frequency tagging of two competing stimuli in binocular rivalry and stimulus rivalry in humans to evaluate whether the steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEPs) show similar signatures of neural competition for both conditions. We found that flickering the stimuli generates spectral power at the tagged frequencies in both types of rivalry in the early visual cortex. We then quantified dynamic signatures of competition by tracking amplitude changes in the frequency tags, which showed that both types of rivalry colocalized in occipital regions of the cortex. Thus, contrary to our hypothesis that stimulus rivalry was being mediated by high-level competition between the images, we find that neural competition measured by the SSVEP instead suggests that the sites of competition for stimulus rivalry and binocular rivalry may similarly include the occipital pole and middle temporal gyrus (hMT+/V5) of the visual system, consistent with a low-level, binocular interpretation.
Project description:Binocular rivalry is a phenomenon where the simultaneous presentation of two different stimuli to the two eyes leads to alternating perception of the two stimuli. The temporary dominance of one stimulus over the other is influenced by several factors. Here, we studied the influence of reward on binocular rivalry dynamics and its neural representation in visual cortex. Orthogonal rotating grating stimuli were shown continuously, while monetary reward was given during the conscious perception of one stimulus but not the other. Periods of perceptual dominance were assessed both through participants' subjective report and objectively using functional magnetic resonance imaging and multi-voxel pattern analysis. Results did not confirm previous evidence for an effect of reward on perceptual dominance durations. Exploratory post-hoc analyses indicated that knowledge regarding both the reward contingency and the subjective nature of perceptual alternations may have interfered with potential reward effects on perceptual phase durations, suggesting a moderating role of meta-cognitive awareness in reward-based perceptual inference. Future studies of top-down influences on bistable perception should carefully consider the methodological challenges related to meta-cognitive awareness.