Advancing the Interhemispheric Switch Model of Perceptual Rivalry

Trung Thanh Ngo (2009). Advancing the Interhemispheric Switch Model of Perceptual Rivalry PhD Thesis, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Trung Thanh Ngo
Thesis Title Advancing the Interhemispheric Switch Model of Perceptual Rivalry
School, Centre or Institute School of Biomedical Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-03-23
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor John Douglas Pettigrew
Total pages 348
Total colour pages 24
Total black and white pages 324
Subjects 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Perceptual rivalry refers to visual phenomena that are characterised by alternations between different percepts, despite an unchanging sensory input. Two common types of perceptual rivalry are (i) reversible figures — two-dimensional stable images that when viewed, are perceived to switch between different interpretations, and (ii) binocular rivalry — the alternations in image dominance resulting from the presentation of conflicting stimuli, one to each eye. Several investigators have suggested that these rivalling phenomena are mediated by similar neural mechanisms. Such a view, however, has not only been inadequately substantiated, but has also yet to be assessed in the context of a directly testable neurophysiological model. Miller and Pettigrew have proposed a novel, high-level interhemispheric switch (IHS) explanatory model of binocular rivalry. This model conceptualises the perceptual alternations as being mediated by alternations between one hemisphere’s selected image and the other hemisphere’s selected (rival) image. To assess their hypothesis, caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) was used. CVS is a simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive brain stimulation technique that unilaterally activates high-level attentional areas. In accordance with the IHS model, CVS was found to significantly affect predominance (the duration that one image is perceived relative to the other, within a given viewing period) during conventional binocular rivalry with horizontal/vertical gratings and with orthogonal oblique gratings. The present thesis therefore aims, through the use of CVS, to extend this IHS model of binocular rivalry to reversible-figure alternations and propose a general IHS model of perceptual rivalry. Chapter 1 provides a detailed literature review of the field within the context of comparing both perceptual rivalries. In Chapter 2, investigations are presented on two different reversible figures — the perspective-reversing Necker cube and the figure–ground reversing Rubin’s vase–faces illusion. In these experiments, CVS was found to significantly change observers’ predominance compared to their baseline predominance. These results demonstrate that interhemispheric switching also mediates the alternations of these visual phenomena, in addition to binocular rivalry, thereby extending the IHS model to one of perceptual rivalry in general. Moreover, the findings are interpreted in a cognitive neuroscience context, including a novel proposal of a forebrain framework for the IHS model. Chapter 3 presents CVS experiments that address the issue of percept–to–hemisphere selection and the reproducibility of CVS effects, following Miller’s initial work on two types of conventional binocular rivalry. In planned analyses, significant predominance changes were not found in horizontal/vertical rivalry, oblique rivalry and Necker-cube rivalry. In post-hoc analyses that accounted for study-design differences between Miller’s original experiments and the present experiment, CVS was again not shown to induce significant predominance changes in any of the rivalry types. Assessment of directional predominance changes following CVS appeared to suggest an arbitrary selection of percept–to–hemisphere in all rivalry types, although no firm conclusions could be drawn from the obtained data on this issue. Nevertheless, the experiments further extend upon Miller’s earlier work by examining the inter- and intra-individual reproducibility of CVS-induced effects on predominance. Such reproducibility was found to be low and potential reasons for this are discussed. The experiments in Chapter 4 examine a type of binocular rivalry in which dichoptic presentation of Díaz-Caneja stimuli yields rivalry among four different stable images: half-field rivalry between the images presented to the eyes, and coherence rivalry in which aspects of each eye’s presented image are perceptually regrouped into rivalling coherent images. Each of these rivalries was found to occur for about half the given viewing time. Furthermore, CVS significantly shifted the predominance of perceived coherent images (coherence rivalry) but not half-field images (eye rivalry). This finding suggests that coherence rivalry (like conventional rivalry according to previous experiments) is mediated by interhemispheric switching at a high level, while eye rivalry is mediated by intrahemispheric mechanisms, most likely at a low level. In addition, it is proposed that Díaz-Caneja stimuli induce ‘meta-rivalry’ whereby these discrete high- and low-level competitive processes themselves rival for visual consciousness. The current thesis thus presents a novel meta-rivalry model of multistable binocular rivalry. It also presents the first direct evidence that interhemispheric switching mediates reversible-figure alternations, thereby supporting a generalised IHS model of perceptual rivalry. It is argued that both models provide a parsimonious exploratory framework within which specific predictions can be made and readily tested. Finally, the findings of all experiments in the current thesis are summarised.
Keyword reversible figures
perceptual rivalry
bottom–up versus top–down processing
caloric vestibular stimulation
unilateral hemispheric activation
neural model
interhemispheric switching
percept-to-hemisphere attentional selection
Additional Notes Individual page numbers in the complete pdf document to be printed in colour: 66, 78, 80, 93, 110, 117, 137, 142, 255–257, 262, 264, 265, 268, 275, 277, 283–285, 290, 292, 294, 302

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Created: Tue, 07 Apr 2009, 02:29:47 EST by Mr Trung Ngo on behalf of Library - Information Access Service