Can binocular rivalry reveal neural correlates of consciousness?

Randolph Blake, Jan Brascamp, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume369
Issue number1641
DOIs
StatePublished - May 5 2014

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Keywords

  • Binocular rivalry/visual awareness/neural correlates of consciousness
  • Neural dynamics
  • Perceptual decision making
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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