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Old June 14th, 2013, 02:14 PM   #1
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Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness

A bit off topic, forgive me, but interesting stuff.

While studying for my consciousness documentary, I keep running across science's use of binocular rivalry, to study conscious perception.

The human brain is supposed to take the left and right eye data streams, and convert them into a merged 3D view, before simulating it in the hippocampus. However, if the two views have nothing to do with each other, then the visual cortex cannot combine them into a single view, and instead, alternates sending first one image, and then the other, for simulation into experience.

To test this, put on a pair of anaglyph glasses, and find a distance from the screen in which you can comfortably view the "+" (near the middle of the screen) as one fused icon. If your eyes saccade too much, only parts of each image fade, so it is important to keep your eyes on the "+", but also to keep them relaxed, so the entire image is available.

In my experience, I rarely see 100% one image or the other, but see a vacillating slow "dissolve" between L and R views, about every 2-3 seconds. Interestingly, there's no pain involved in this extreme rivalry (unlike close but failed fusings). However, my eyes do feel fatigued after staring at it for awhile. Interestingly, the bokeh effect on the windows beyond the shoe is the most irritating element; I think because there's no easy way to make sense of it. I'd love to hear what your experience is.

At one point, I used a face to oppose the house (like in the original experiment), but the eyes were too salient, and would never disappear, even when the rest of the face would. I figured a shoe was pretty equivalent in saliency to a house.

The anaglyph's coloring is definitely an artifact in the viewing, so it's probably better to check out the side-by-side view on a polarized monitor. Just double click on the thumbnails to view full size.
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Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness-binocular-rivalry-anaglyph.png   Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness-binocular-rivalry-sbs.png  

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Old June 14th, 2013, 02:20 PM   #2
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Re: Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness

Here are the images with the face vs. house:
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Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness-binocular-rivalry-face-anaglyph_00000.png   Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness-binocular-rivalry-face-sbs_00000.png  

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Old June 17th, 2013, 06:40 PM   #3
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Re: Binocular Rivalry and Consciousness

Really cool effect. I've never played with mixing to completely different images before.
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