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Unraveling adaptation and mutual inhibition in perceptual rivalry

Summary: Unraveling adaptation and mutual inhibition in
perceptual rivalry
Functional Neurobiology and Helmholtz Institute,
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The NetherlandsMartin J. M. Lankheet
When the visual system is confronted with incompatible images in the same part of the visual field, the conscious percept
switches back and forth between the rivaling stimuli. Such spontaneous flips provide important clues to the neuronal basis
for visual awareness. The general idea is that two representations compete for dominance in a process of mutual inhibition,
in which adaptation shifts the balance to and fro. The inherent nonlinear nature of the rivalrous flip-flop and its stochastic
behavior, however, made it impossible to disentangle inhibition and adaptation. Here we report a general method to
measure the time course, and asymmetries, of mechanisms involved in perceptual rivalry. Supported by model simulations,
we show the dynamics of opponent interactions between mutual inhibition and adaptation. The findings not only provide
new insight into the mechanism underlying rivalry but also offer new opportunities to study and compare a wide range of
bistable processes in the brain and their relation to visual awareness.
Keywords: adaptation, binocular rivalry, dynamics, mutual inhibition, reverse correlation
Perceptual rivalry behaves like a flip-flop in which
percepts remain stable for a while and then abruptly
switch from one percept to the other (Wheatstone, 1838).
Changes in cortical processing associated with such
spontaneous alternations have been studied extensively


Source: Andrzejak, Ralph Gregor - Departament de Tecnologia, Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences