Binocular rivalry and other forms of visual bistability

Jan Brascamp

in Behavioral Methods in Consciousness Research

Published in print March 2015 | ISBN: 9780199688890
Published online June 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191801785 | DOI:
Binocular rivalry and other forms of visual bistability

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  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology


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Although most visual stimuli reliably give rise to a similar perceptual experience every time they are viewed, perception of some, ambiguous, stimuli can drastically differ from moment to moment: this is known as visual bistability. In certain cases, such as that of binocular rivalry, this involves periodic suppression of parts of the stimulus from awareness. Visual bistability is of interest to consciousness research, allowing researches to address questions like what neural activity reflects visual experience rather than input; and what causes perception to switch between interpretations. When experimentally addressing such questions there are many practical considerations, such as how to present independent visual stimulation to the left and right eye to induce binocular rivalry, or how to control which perceptual interpretation is perceived at a designated time. The literature on visual bistability provides a rich source of information that can help out in such cases. This chapter provides an overview.

Keywords: visual bistability; binocular rivalry; consciousness; awareness; ambiguous stimuli

Chapter.  10553 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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