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Mark Vergeer, Pieter Moors, Johan Wagemans, Raymond van Ee; Visible and invisible stimulus parts integrate into global object representations as revealed by combining monocular and binocular rivalry. Journal of Vision 2016;16(11):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.11.14.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our visual system faces the challenging task to construct integrated visual representations from the visual input projected on our retinae. Previous research has provided mixed evidence as to whether visual awareness of the stimulus parts is required for such integration to occur. Here, we address this issue by taking a novel approach in which we combine a monocular rivalry stimulus (i.e., a bistable rotating cylinder) with binocular rivalry. The results of Experiment 1 show that in a rivalry condition, where one half of the cylinder is perceptually suppressed, significantly more perceptual switches occur that are consistent with visual integration of the whole cylinder than occur in a control condition, where only half of the cylinder is presented at a time and the presentation of the two images is physically alternated. In Experiment 2, stimulation in the observer's dominant eye was kept dominant by presenting the half cylinder in this eye at higher contrast and by surrounding it with a flickering context. Results show that the strong convexity bias that was found in a control condition, where no stimulus was presented in the suppressed eye, almost completely disappears when the unseen half is presented in the suppressed eye, indicating that both halves visually integrate and, subsequently, compete for convexity. These findings provide evidence that unseen visual information is biased towards a representation that is congruent with the current visible representation and, hence, that principles of perceptual organization also apply to parts of the visual input that remain unseen by the observer.
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