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Introduction to research topic – binocular rivalry: a gateway to studying consciousness

Maier, Alexander and Panagiotaropoulos, Theofanis I. and Tsuchiya, Naotsugu and Keliris, Georgios A. (2012) Introduction to research topic – binocular rivalry: a gateway to studying consciousness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6 . Art. No. 263. ISSN 1662-5161.

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In 1593, Neapolitan polymath Giambattista della Porta publicly lamented that he was unable to improve his impressive productivity (he had published in areas as diverse as cryptography, hydraulics, pharmacology, optics, and classic fiction). Della Porta was trying to read two books simultaneously by placing both volumes side-by-side, and using each eye independently. To his great surprise, his setup allowed him to only read one book at a time. This discovery arguably marks the first written account of binocular rivalry (Wade, 2000) – a perceptual phenomenon that more than 400 years later still both serves to intrigue as well as to illuminate the limits of scientific knowledge. At first glance, binocular rivalry is an oddball. In every day vision, our eyes receive largely matching views of the world. The brain combines the two images into a cohesive scene, and concurrently, perception is stable. However, when showing two very different images (such as two different books) to each eye, the brain resolves the conflict by adopting a “diplomatic” strategy. Rather than mixing the views of the two eyes into an insensible visual percept, observers perceive a dynamically changing series of perceptual snapshots, with one eye’s view dominating for a few seconds before being replaced by its rival from the other eye. With prolonged viewing of a rivalrous stimulus, one inevitably experiences a sequence of subjective perceptual reversals, separated by random time intervals, and this process continues for as long as the sensory conflict is present.

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Additional Information:© 2012 Maier, Panagiotaropoulos, Tsuchiya and Keliris. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. Received: 06 August 2012; accepted: 06 September 2012; published online: 25 September 2012.
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Official Citation:Maier A, Panagiotaropoulos TI, Tsuchiya N and Keliris GA (2012) Introduction to research topic – binocular rivalry: a gateway to studying consciousness. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:263. doi: 10.3389/ fnhum.2012.00263
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35290
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Nov 2012 19:17
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:26

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