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Artem Platonov, Jeroen Goossens; The role of lateral inhibition in binocular motion rivalry. Journal of Vision 2013;13(6):12. doi: 10.1167/13.6.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It is generally believed that percept alternations in binocular rivalry result from the interplay between mutual inhibition and slow adaptation of the competing percepts. This view is supported by growing evidence that dynamic changes in adaptation indeed support percept alternations in binocular rivalry. Empirical evidence for the involvement of mutual inhibition, however, is still scarce. To fill this gap, we presented human subjects with dichoptic random-dot motion stimuli and manipulated the angle between the monocular directions of motion from pure opponent horizontal motion to pure vertical motion in the same direction. We hypothesized that this decrease in motion–direction disparity increases the cross-inhibition gain due to lateral inhibition between neurons in the brain that are coarsely tuned to adjacent directions of visual motion, which predicts the largest changes in dominance at the smallest instead of the largest motion–direction disparities. We found that decreasing the angle between the two monocular directions of motion indeed systematically increased the predominance and mean dominance durations of the motion pattern presented to the ocular dominant eye (as identified by the hole-in-card test). Moreover, this effect was stronger if the contrast of the stimuli was lowered. Simulations showed that these features are indeed hallmark of weighted lateral inhibition between populations of directionally tuned motion-sensitive neurons. Our findings thus suggest dominance and suppression in binocular rivalry arises naturally from this fundamental principle in sensory processing. Interestingly, if the two monocular directions of motion differed <60°, the percept alternations also included transitions to in-between (vertical) motion percepts. We speculate that this behavior might result from positive feedback arising from adapting disinhibitory circuits in the network.
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