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Yasha Sheynin, Sébastien Proulx, Robert F. Hess; Temporary monocular occlusion facilitates binocular fusion during rivalry. Journal of Vision 2019;19(5):23. doi: 10.1167/19.5.23.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A few hours of monocular patching temporarily enhances the deprived eye's contribution to binocular vision, constituting a form of adult brain plasticity. Although the mechanism for this plasticity is currently unknown, several imaging studies present evidence that monocular deprivation achieves its effects by changing excitatory–inhibitory balance in the visual cortex. Much of the past work on adult monocular patching utilized binocular rivalry to quantify the patching-induced shift in perceptual eye dominance, extracting periods of exclusive visibility (in which one eye's signal is suppressed from perception) to assess each eye's contribution to binocular vision while overlooking the occurrence of mixed visibility (in which information from both eyes is combined). In this paper, we discuss two experiments to investigate the effects of short-term monocular occlusion on the relative predominance of mixed and exclusive percepts during binocular rivalry. In addition to the known perceptual eye-dominance shift, we hypothesized patching would also increase the perception of mixtures during rivalry due to deprivation-induced changes in excitatory–inhibitory balance. Our data point to two previously unknown effects of monocular deprivation: (a) a significant increase in the overall fraction and median duration of mixed visibility during rivalry that is detectable up to at least an hour after removing the patch and (b) the overall fraction of superimposition; rather than piecemeal, mixed percepts are specifically enhanced after monocular deprivation. In addition to strengthening the contribution of the deprived eye, our results show that temporary monocular patching enhances the visibility of fused binocular percepts, likely the result of attenuated interocular inhibition.
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