Normalization regulates competition for visual awareness.

Ling S, Blake R
Neuron. 2012 75 (3): 531-40

PMID: 22884335 · PMCID: PMC3419498 · DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.05.032

Signals in our brain are in a constant state of competition, including those that vie for motor control, sensory dominance, and awareness. To shed light on the mechanisms underlying neural competition, we exploit binocular rivalry, a phenomenon that allows us to probe the competitive process that ordinarily transpires outside of our awareness. By measuring psychometric functions under different states of rivalry, we discovered a pattern of gain changes that are consistent with a model of competition in which attention interacts with normalization processes, thereby driving the ebb and flow between states of awareness. Moreover, we reveal that attention plays a crucial role in modulating competition; without attention, rivalry suppression for high-contrast stimuli is negligible. We propose a framework whereby our visual awareness of competing sensory representations is governed by a common neural computation: normalization.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

MeSH Terms (8)

Attention Awareness Brain Humans Models, Neurological Models, Theoretical Psychometrics Visual Perception

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