Neural Correlates of Perceptual Rivalry in the Human Brain

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Science  19 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5371, pp. 1930-1934
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5371.1930

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When dissimilar images are presented to the two eyes, perception alternates spontaneously between each monocular view, a phenomenon called binocular rivalry. Functional brain imaging in humans was used to study the neural basis of these subjective perceptual changes. Cortical regions whose activity reflected perceptual transitions included extrastriate areas of the ventral visual pathway, and parietal and frontal regions that have been implicated in spatial attention; whereas the extrastriate areas were also engaged by nonrivalrous perceptual changes, activity in the frontoparietal cortex was specifically associated with perceptual alternation only during rivalry. These results suggest that frontoparietal areas play a central role in conscious perception, biasing the content of visual awareness toward abstract internal representations of visual scenes, rather than simply toward space.

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