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Paper in Current Biology
  • Pearson, J. and Clifford, C. (2005). Suppressed patterns alter vision during binocular rivalry. Current Biology, 15: 2142-2148

    Binocular rivalry occurs when incongruent patterns are presented to corresponding regions of the retinas, leading to fluctuations of awareness between the patterns. One attribute of a stimulus may rival whereas another may combine between the eyes; but it is typically assumed that the dominant features are perceived veridically. Here, we show this is not necessarily the case and that a suppressed visual feature can alter dominant perception. The cortical representations of oriented gratings can interact even when one of them is perceptually suppressed, such that the perceived orientation of the dominant grating is systematically biased depending on the orientation of the suppressed grating. A suppressed inducing pattern has the same qualitative effect as a visible one, but suppression reduces effective contrast by a factor of around six. A simple neural model quantifies and helps explain these illusions. These results demonstrate that binocular rivalry suppression operates in a graded fashion across multiple sites in the visual hierarchy rather than truncating processing at a single site and that suppressed visual information can alter dominant vision in real-time.