Congruent tactile stimulation reduces the strength of visual suppression during binocular rivalry.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:The plasticity of the human brain, as shown in perceptual learning, is generally reflected by improved task performance after training. Here, we show that perceptual suppression can be increased through training. In the first experiment, binocular rivalry suppression of a specific orientation was trained, leading to a relative reduction in sensitivity to the trained orientation. In a second experiment, two orthogonal orientations were suppressed in alternating training blocks, in the left and right eye, respectively. This double-training procedure lead to reduced sensitivity for the orientation that was suppression-trained in each specific eye, implying that training of feature suppression is specific for the eye in which the oriented grating was presented during training. Results of a control experiment indicate that the obtained effects are indeed due to suppression during training, instead of being merely due to the repetitive presentation of the oriented gratings. Visual plasticity is essential for a person's visual development. The finding that plasticity can result in increased perceptual suppression reported here may prove to be significant in understanding human visual development. It emphasizes that for stable vision, not only the enhancement of relevant signals is crucial, but also the reliable and stable suppression of (task) irrelevant signals.
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:Interocular grouping (IOG) is a binocular visual function that can arise during multi-stable perception. IOG perception was initiated using split-grating stimuli constructed from luminance (L), luminance-modulated noise (LM) and contrast-modulated noise (CM). In Experiment 1, three different visibility levels were used for L and LM (or first-order) stimuli, and compared to fixed-visibility CM (or second-order) stimuli. Eight binocularly normal participants indicated whether they perceived full horizontal or vertical gratings, superimposition, or other (piecemeal and eye-of-origin) percepts. CM stimuli rarely generated full IOG, but predominantly generated superimposition. In Experiment 2, Levelt's modified laws were tested for IOG in nine participants. Split-gratings presented to each eye contained different visibility LM gratings, or LM and CM gratings. The results for the LM-vs-LM conditions mostly followed the predictions of Levelt's modified laws, whereas the results for the LM-vs-CM conditions did not. Counterintuitively, when high-visibility LM and low-visibility CM split-gratings were used, high-visibility LM components did not predominate IOG perception. Our findings suggest that higher proportions of superimposition during CM-vs-CM viewing are due to binocular combination, rather than mutual inhibition. It implies that IOG percepts are more likely to be mediated at an earlier monocular, rather than a binocular stage. Our previously proposed conceptual framework for conventional binocular rivalry, which includes asymmetric feedback, visual saliency, or a combination of both (Skerswetat et al. Sci Rep 8:14432, 2018), might also account for IOG. We speculate that opponency neurons might mediate coherent percepts when dissimilar information separately enters the eyes.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>We sought brain activity that predicts visual consciousness.<h4>Methods</h4>We used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain activity to a 1000-ms display of sine-wave gratings, oriented vertically in one eye and horizontally in the other. This display yields binocular rivalry: irregular alternations in visual consciousness between the images viewed by the eyes. We replaced both gratings with 200 ms of darkness, the gap, before showing a second display of the same rival gratings for another 1000 ms. We followed this by a 1000-ms mask then a 2000-ms inter-trial interval (ITI). Eleven participants pressed keys after the second display in numerous trials to say whether the orientation of the visible grating changed from before to after the gap or not. Each participant also responded to numerous non-rivalry trials in which the gratings had identical orientations for the two eyes and for which the orientation of both either changed physically after the gap or did not.<h4>Results</h4>We found that greater activity from lateral occipital-parietal-temporal areas about 180 ms after initial onset of rival stimuli predicted a change in visual consciousness more than 1000 ms later, on re-presentation of the rival stimuli. We also found that less activity from parietal, central, and frontal electrodes about 400 ms after initial onset of rival stimuli predicted a change in visual consciousness about 800 ms later, on re-presentation of the rival stimuli. There was no such predictive activity when the change in visual consciousness occurred because the stimuli changed physically.<h4>Conclusion</h4>We found early EEG activity that predicted later visual consciousness. Predictive activity 180 ms after onset of the first display may reflect adaption of the neurons mediating visual consciousness in our displays. Predictive activity 400 ms after onset of the first display may reflect a less-reliable brain state mediating visual consciousness.
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:Binocular rivalry is a classic experimental tool to probe the neural machinery of perceptual awareness. During rivalry, perception alternates between the two eyes, and the ebb and flow of perception is modeled to rely on the strength of inhibitory interactions between competitive neuronal populations in visual cortex. As a result, rivalry has been suggested as a noninvasive perceptual marker of inhibitory signaling in visual cortex, and its putative disturbance in psychiatric conditions, including autism. Yet, direct evidence causally implicating inhibitory signaling in the dynamics of binocular rivalry is currently lacking. We previously found that people with higher GABA levels in visual cortex, measured using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, have stronger perceptual suppression during rivalry. Here, we present direct causal tests of the impact of GABAergic inhibition on rivalry dynamics, and the contribution of specific GABA receptors to these dynamics. In a crossover pharmacological design with male and female adult participants, we found that drugs that modulate the two dominant GABA receptor types in the brain, GABAA (clobazam) and GABAB (arbaclofen), increase perceptual suppression during rivalry relative to a placebo. Crucially, these results could not be explained by changes in reaction times or response criteria, as determined through rivalry simulation trials, suggesting a direct and specific influence of GABA on perceptual suppression. A full replication study of the GABAB modulator reinforces these findings. These results provide causal evidence for a link between the strength of inhibition in the brain and perceptual suppression during rivalry and have implications for psychiatric conditions including autism.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT How does the brain accomplish perceptual gating? Here we use a direct and causal pharmacological manipulation to present insight into the neural machinery of a classic illusion of perceptual awareness: binocular rivalry. We show that drugs that increase GABAergic inhibition in the brain, clobazam (GABAA modulator) and arbaclofen (GABAB modulator), increase perceptual suppression during rivalry relative to a placebo. These results present the first causal link between GABAergic inhibition and binocular rivalry in humans, complementing classic models of binocular rivalry, and have implications for our understanding of psychiatric conditions, such as autism, where binocular rivalry is posited as a behavioral marker of disruptions in inhibitory signaling in the brain.
Project description:Purpose:Two core processes underlie 3-D binocular vision. The first, a binocular combination/summation process, integrates similar feature signals from the two eye channels to form a binocular representation. The second, a binocular inhibitory process, suppresses interocular conflicting signals or falsely matched binocular representations to establish single vision. Having an intrinsic interocular imbalance within one or both processes can cause sensory eye dominance (SED), related to imbalances of combination (SEDcombo) and/or inhibition (SEDinhibition). While much has recently been revealed about SEDcombo and SEDinhibition, the relationship between them is still unknown. Methods:We measured observers' foveal SEDcombo and SEDinhibition, respectively, with a pair of dichoptic horizontal sine wave gratings with different phases and binocular rivalry stimulus with vertical and horizontal gratings. We then measured horizontal and vertical monocular contrast thresholds using sinusoidal grating stimuli, and stereo thresholds using random-dot stereograms. Results:There exists a strong correlation between SEDcombo and SEDinhibition. An observer's interocular difference in contrast threshold was not always consistent with his/her SEDcombo and SEDinhihition, suggesting a partial binocular origin for the underlying imbalances. We also found stereo thresholds significantly increased with the magnitudes of SEDcombo, as well as with the magnitude of SEDinhibition. Conclusions:Our findings suggest a common origin for interocular imbalance in the two different binocular processes and that both types of sensory eye dominance are significant factors in impeding stereopsis.
Project description:During binocular rivalry, conflicting images presented to the two eyes compete for perceptual dominance, but the neural basis of this competition is disputed. In interocular switch rivalry, rival images periodically exchanged between the two eyes generate one of two types of perceptual alternation: (1) a fast, regular alternation between the images that is time-locked to the stimulus switches and has been proposed to arise from competition at lower levels of the visual processing hierarchy or (2) a slow, irregular alternation spanning multiple stimulus switches that has been associated with higher levels of the visual system. The existence of these two types of perceptual alternation has been influential in establishing the view that rivalry may be resolved at multiple hierarchical levels of the visual system. We varied the spatial, temporal, and luminance properties of interocular switch rivalry gratings and found, instead, an association between fast, regular perceptual alternations and processing by the magnocellular stream and between slow, irregular alternations and processing by the parvocellular stream. The magnocellular and parvocellular streams are two early visual pathways that are specialized for the processing of motion and form, respectively. These results provide a new framework for understanding the neural substrates of binocular rivalry that emphasizes the importance of parallel visual processing streams, and not only hierarchical organization, in the perceptual resolution of ambiguities in the visual environment.