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Olivia Carter, Patrick Cavanagh; Onset rivalry: Brief presentation isolates an early independent phase of perceptual competition. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):374. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.374.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When the left and right eyes are simultaneously presented with different images, observers typically report exclusive awareness of only one image. Every few seconds the dominance alternates in a cycle of perceptual competition that continues indefinitely (binocular rivalry). Despite the apparent continuity in perceptual switching, we now demonstrate that the initial “onset” period is fundamentally different to all subsequent rivalry epochs. In a series of five psychophysical experiments, onset rivalry dominance reveals strong biases that reflect low-level, spatially localized factors that are stable over periods of weeks. If the presentation exceeds ∼1sec at any location, however, the very different and much more balanced alternations of sustained binocular rivalry become apparent. These powerful onset biases are observed with brief intermittent presentations at a single location or with continual smooth motion of the targets. Periods of adaptation to one of the rivaling targets induced local switches in dominance to the non-adapted target. However, these effects were generally limited to the spatial site of adaptation and had less influence over each subsequent cycle of the target. We conclude that onset rivalry is independent of sustained rivalry and cannot be explained by local regions of monocular dominance or memory of past perceptual history. These findings suggest that brief presentation paradigms are inappropriate for their current use in studies of the mechanisms underlying sustained rivalry. However, brief presentations are ideal for investigating early stages of perceptual competition.
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