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Sheng He, Yi Jiang, Xiangchuan Chen; Stabilizing bistable visual patterns through interocular suppression, crowding, and inattention. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):362. doi: 10.1167/7.9.362.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Alternating perception of bistable visual patterns can be slowed, and even halted, if the visual stimuli are presented intermittently and periodically removed from view. Here we demonstrate the similar stabilization effect of a number of different bistable visual patterns by interrupting the conscious experience of the bistable stimuli through interocular suppression, crowding, or removal of attention. Specifically, we found that: (1) Binocular rivalry: the perceptual switch of binocular rivalry could be dramatically slowed down by intermittently adding distractors around the rivalry stimulus and by intermittently engaging observers attention on a demanding task away from the rivalry stimulus. This observation is consistent with recent discoveries of attentional modulation of rivalry speeds. (2) Bistable rotating sphere: the perceived directional switch of a bistable rotating sphere defined by structure from motion patterns could be stabilized by intermittently rendering the bistable stimulus invisible through interocular suppression as well as through crowding. Inattention was also effective in stabilizing rotation. These observations imply that the neural stages of interocular suppression and crowding precede that of the structure from motion. (3) Bistable plaid: The perceptual alternation between two component gratings sliding across each other and a single coherently moving plaid could be stabilized with intermittent interocular suppression. Such an observation also suggests that interocular suppression disrupts information processing before the engagement of the neural mechanism responsible for component vs. pattern motion. Taken together, these observations indicate that interocular suppression, crowding, and the removal of attention are all nearly as effective as physical removal of bistable stimuli in perceptual stabilization. These observations also support the critical role of attention in facilitating perceptual alternations of bistable stimuli.
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