Contradictory influence of context on binocular rivalry

Carter, Olivia L. and Campbell, Thomas G. and Liu, Guang B. and Wallis, Guy M. (2004) Contradictory influence of context on binocular rivalry. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 87 (3). pp. 153-162. ISSN 0816-4622


Binocular rivalry is a complex process characterised by alternations in perceptual suppression and dominance that result when two different images are presented simultaneously to the left and right eyes. It has been reported recently that the addition of contextual cues will promote the predominance of the context consistent rivalry target. In contrast to Levelt's second proposition (1965), this effect has been found to result exclusively from an increase in the dominance phase duration, while the suppression phase duration remains unaffected. METHODS: Human subjects were simultaneously presented with a small (2 degrees ) disc consisting of gratings (four cycles per degree) of different orientations to the two eyes. Four experiments were conducted to ascertain the effects of background gratings and contextual colour information on target predominance and phase duration. For each of the four experimental conditions, the orientation and colour of the target gratings and surrounding contextual background were systematically manipulated. RESULTS: In this study, we report an effect opposite to that of Levelt. Contradictory contextual information increases target predominance and phase duration during binocular rivalry. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to promote the dominance of the context contradictory percept with co-linearity, co-chromaticity and orientation cues. In line with previous studies involving context, we find that this effect on predominance is due to an increase in the duration of the dominance rather than the suppression phase. DISCUSSION: We discuss our findings in respect to those from previous studies and consider high- and low-level processes that may be responsible for these apparently 'contradictory' roles of context on binocular rivalry. In addition, we discuss how the apparent 'anti-Levelt' effect of context can be reinterpreted in a manner that brings it back in line with Levelt's second proposition and raises the question of whether 'suppressability' plays a disproportionately large role in determining the duration of perceptual phases in binocular rivalry.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2010 12:28
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: binocular rivalry
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1113 Ophthalmology and Optometry > 111399 Ophthalmology and Optometry not elsewhere classified
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
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