Activity in early visual areas predicts interindividual differences in binocular rivalry dynamics

Journal of Neurophysiology 111:1190-1202 (2014)
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When dissimilar images are presented to the two eyes, binocular rivalry (BR) occurs, and perception alternates spontaneously between the images. Although neural correlates of the oscillating perception during BR have been found in multiple sites along the visual pathway, the source of BR dynamics is unclear. Psychophysical and modeling studies suggest that both low- and high-level cortical processes underlie BR dynamics. Previous neuroimaging studies have demonstrated the involvement of high-level regions by showing that frontal and parietal cortices responded time locked to spontaneous perceptual alternation in BR. However, a potential contribution of early visual areas to BR dynamics has been overlooked, because these areas also responded to the physical stimulus alternation mimicking BR. In the present study, instead of focusing on activity during perceptual switches, we highlighted brain activity during suppression periods to investigate a potential link between activity in human early visual areas and BR dynamics. We used a strong interocular suppression paradigm called continuous flash suppression to suppress and fluctuate the visibility of a probe stimulus and measured retinotopic responses to the onset of the invisible probe using functional MRI. There were ∼130-fold differences in the median suppression durations across 12 subjects. The individual differences in suppression durations could be predicted by the amplitudes of the retinotopic activity in extrastriate visual areas (V3 and V4v) evoked by the invisible probe. Weaker responses were associated with longer suppression durations. These results demonstrate that retinotopic representations in early visual areas play a role in the dynamics of perceptual alternations during BR.
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Binocular Rivalry and Visual Awareness in Human Extrastriate Cortex.Tong, Frank; Nakayama, K.; Vaughan, J. T. & Kanwisher, Nancy
Neural Correlates of Perceptual Rivalry in the Human Brain.Lumer, E. D.; Friston, K. J. & Rees, Geraint
Neuronal Correlates of Subjective Visual Perception.Logothetis, Nikos K. & Schall, Jeffrey D.

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