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Sam Ling, Randolph Blake; Normalization regulates competition for visual awareness. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):684. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.684.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The notion that binocular rivalry and attention are intertwined has been debated for over a century, and some have gone so far as to directly attribute perceptual alternations in rivalry to switches in attention. Here, we develop and test the related idea that attention and rivalry reconcile competing visual information via a common computational framework, one in which modulation of awareness through rivalry impacts attentional modulation. To pursue this idea, we measured psychometric functions for a variable contrast stimulus presented to one eye under dominant and suppressed states of rivalry, and manipulated the size of the competing stimulus presented to the other eye. The resulting contrast psychometric functions provide behavioral measures that scale proportionally to the signal-to-noise ratio of the underlying neural contrast response functions. Those functions reveal a pattern of gain changes consistent with a model of rivalry in which attention interacts with normalization: whereas a large competing stimulus caused only a contrast gain reduction, a smaller competitor caused reductions in both the contrast gain and response gain. We propose a computational framework whereby competition between sensory representations is governed by a common mechanism: normalization. In this framework, attention and rivalry are intricately intertwined, whereby visual awareness during dominance phases of rivalry dictates what receives attention and what does not
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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