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Patricia Costello, Anne Engebretson, Megan Taylor, Constance Lokken, Yi Jiang; Fear processing during binocular suppression. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):295. doi: 10.1167/9.8.295.
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In general, stimuli that are familiar and recognizable dominate during binocular rivalry, and this is usually thought to be due to superior processing during the dominant phase. Recent research has demonstrated that familiar and recognizable stimuli and fear related stimuli such as fearful facial expressions also have an advantage of breaking suppression during binocular rivalry. In the current study, animate images from the IAPS database were introduced to one eye and competed against a standard high-contrast dynamic noise pattern presented to the other eye. We measured how long it took for fear-related images (snakes and spiders) to break out of suppression and compared the timing to a non-fear related control images (dogs, cats, birds, etc) breaking from suppression. We also measured participants' general fear levels on the Klorman Snake and Spider Phobia Questionnaire. Preliminary results show that fear-related images are faster to gain dominance, but only for those who reported a high level of fear to the specific images. That is, suppression times negatively correlated with individual differences in fear scores for both snakes and spider suggesting that stimuli relevant to individual ecological importance have preferential access to conscious awareness.
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