Individual variation in inter-ocular suppression and sensory eye dominance
Wang M., McGraw P., Ledgeway T.
The competitive and inhibitory interactions between the two eyes’ images are a pervasive aspect of binocular vision. Over the last decade, our understanding of the neural processes underpinning binocular rivalry (BR) and continuous flash suppression (CFS) has increased substantially, but we still have little understanding of the relationship between these two effects and their variation in the general population. Studies that pool data across individuals and eyes risk masking substantial variations in binocular vision that exist in the general population. To investigate this issue we compared the depth of inter-ocular suppression evoked by BR with that elicited by CFS, in a group (N = 25) of visually normal individuals. A noise pattern (either static for BR or dynamic for CFS) was presented to one eye and its suppressive influence on a probe grating presented simultaneously to the other eye was measured. We found substantial individual differences in the magnitude of suppression (a 10-fold variation in probe detection threshold) evoked by each task, but performance on BR was a significant predictor of performance on the CFS task. However many individuals showed marked asymmetries between the two eyes’ ability to detect a suppressed target, that were not necessarily the same for the two tasks. There was a tendency for the magnitude of the asymmetry to increase as the refresh rate of the dynamic noise increased. The results suggest a common underlying mechanism is likely to be responsible, at least in part, for driving inter-ocular suppression under BR and CFS. The marked asymmetries in inter-ocular suppression at higher noise refresh rates, may be indicative of a difference in temporal processing between the eyes.