This thesis work focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms of vision and visual awareness through the study of binocular rivalry. Binocular rivalry is a perceptual phenomenon which occurs when two different images are shown separately to each eye and perception alternates between the images. The number of investigations on binocular rivalry has risen in recent years due its potential in disentangling the neuronal processes related to ocular competition, perceptual suppression, and the brain basis of perceptual awareness. Although much progress has been made, we still have a limited understanding of where exactly rivalry takes place within the visual system, and further, what mechanisms mediate perceptual suppression. Here, I assess functional roles of alpha oscillations, measured by the electroencephalogram (EEG), as potential neural mechanisms of suppression. I also use EEG to study externally generated steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEPs) to address at what level the visual system competes for perceptual dominance. The general conclusions from the alpha oscillation experiments suggest that they can predict individual differences in rivalry behavior, and also that they may mediate ocular suppression during rivalry perceptual transitions. Furthermore, the general conclusions from the SSVEP experiments suggest that stimulus rivalry, a counterpart of binocular rivalry where the stimulus representations are thought to compete instead of the eyes, may be mediated by similar neural processes as binocular rivalry transpiring within early visual cortex.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.October 2017. Major: Neuroscience. Advisor: Sheng He. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 77 pages.
The neural mechanisms of binocular rivalry revealed by oscillatory signals in the electroencephalogram.
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