Can binocular rivalry reveal neural correlates of consciousness?

Blake R, Brascamp J, Heeger DJ
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 369 (1641): 20130211

PMID: 24639582 · PMCID: PMC3965165 · DOI:10.1098/rstb.2013.0211

This essay critically examines the extent to which binocular rivalry can provide important clues about the neural correlates of conscious visual perception. Our ideas are presented within the framework of four questions about the use of rivalry for this purpose: (i) what constitutes an adequate comparison condition for gauging rivalry's impact on awareness, (ii) how can one distinguish abolished awareness from inattention, (iii) when one obtains unequivocal evidence for a causal link between a fluctuating measure of neural activity and fluctuating perceptual states during rivalry, will it generalize to other stimulus conditions and perceptual phenomena and (iv) does such evidence necessarily indicate that this neural activity constitutes a neural correlate of consciousness? While arriving at sceptical answers to these four questions, the essay nonetheless offers some ideas about how a more nuanced utilization of binocular rivalry may still provide fundamental insights about neural dynamics, and glimpses of at least some of the ingredients comprising neural correlates of consciousness, including those involved in perceptual decision-making.

MeSH Terms (7)

Awareness Consciousness Decision Making Humans Models, Neurological Vision Disparity Visual Perception

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