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David Anderson, Cathleen Moore; Dissociation between figure and ground during binocular rivalry. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):304. doi: 10.1167/9.8.304.
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Binocular rivalry has been explained alternatively in terms of local inhibition between monocular cells (eye rivalry) or in terms of higher-level integration of stimulus features (stimulus rivalry). We used dichoptic displays consisting of clear figure and ground regions that were each composed of conflicting versions across the two eyes (e.g., a red-horizontal figure on a green-vertical ground in one eye and a green-vertical figure on a red-horizontal ground in the other eye). In some blocks, observers reported on the dominance of a given version of the figure. In other blocks, they reported on the dominance of a given version of the ground. Reports indicated that the figure appeared to oscillate between views at a faster rate than the ground. This dissociation conflicts with the eye-rivalry account of binocular rivalry. Under that hypothesis, the images should have oscillated in their entirety such that one of the original images would dominate at any given time, and figure and ground would therefore oscillate together. In contrast, the results are consistent with a stimulus-rivalry account. Under that hypothesis, different components of the scene compete for dominance, and rivalry can therefore reflect the organization of the scene, as asynchronous rivalry for figure and ground does. We speculate that binocular rivalry reflects an object-based processes that act on perceptually organized representations of the retinal image.
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