Perceptual incongruence influences bistability and cortical activation

Brouwer, G. J., Tong, F., Hagoort, P., & Van Ee, R. (2009). Perceptual incongruence influences bistability and cortical activation. Plos One, 4(3): e5056. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005056.
We employed a parametric psychophysical design in combination with functional imaging to examine the influence of metric changes in perceptual incongruence on perceptual alternation rates and cortical responses. Subjects viewed a bistable stimulus defined by incongruent depth cues; bistability resulted from incongruence between binocular disparity and monocular perspective cues that specify different slants (slant rivalry). Psychophysical results revealed that perceptual alternation rates were positively correlated with the degree of perceived incongruence. Functional imaging revealed systematic increases in activity that paralleled the psychophysical results within anterior intraparietal sulcus, prior to the onset of perceptual alternations. We suggest that this cortical activity predicts the frequency of subsequent alternations, implying a putative causal role for these areas in initiating bistable perception. In contrast, areas implicated in form and depth processing (LOC and V3A) were sensitive to the degree of slant, but failed to show increases in activity when these cues were in conflict.
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