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Yi Jiang, Patricia Costello, Sheng He; Race to gain dominance in binocular rivalry: Faster for familiar and recognizable stimuli. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):847. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.6.847.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies have demonstrated that familiar and recognizable stimuli enjoy an advantage of predominance during binocular rivalry. However, the observed advantage of familiar objects is usually attributed to enhanced processing when they are in the dominant phase. In the current study, we investigated the processing of a visual stimulus while it is suppressed. Specifically, do familiar and recognizable stimuli have an advantage in breaking suppression and gaining dominance? A standard high contrast dynamic noise pattern was presented to one eye at the beginning of each trial, and then a test image was introduced to the other eye. We measured the time it took for the test image to overcome the suppression noise and become dominant. The critical manipulation was the familiarity of the test image. In the first experiment, we found a face inversion effect: an upright face took less time to gain dominance compared to an upside-down face against the identical suppression noise. In the second experiment, two types of test stimuli (Chinese characters and Hebrew words), initially suppressed, were presented to three groups of observers (Chinese, Hebrew, and English speakers). Results showed a significant observer group X stimulus type interaction: Chinese characters were faster to gain dominance compared to Hebrew words for Chinese speakers, and the reverse was true for Hebrew speakers. These results suggest that familiar and recognizable information, even when suppressed and invisible, is processed differently from unfamiliar information and has an advantage in attaining the dominant conscious state.
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