The neuron doctrine of binocular rivalry

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Ever since Horace Barlow (1972) proposed his neuron doctrine for perceptual psychology, the holy grail for neurophysiologists has been to find individual neurons or groups of neurons whose firing correlates with specific percepts or even a state of mind or consciousness. Binocular rivalry is a particularly attractive paradigm for this approach because a stable visual stimulus causes an ever-changing subjective perceptual experience. The publication of Blake’s neural theory of binocular rivalry (Blake, 1989) inspired numerous attempts to identify neurons in various areas along the central visual pathways whose firing rate might signal dominance or suppression. Collectively these studies have shown that depending on the type of stimulus, rivalry is resolved at both lower and higher levels in the visual system.


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