Binocular Rivalry Demonstrations

Among psychologists and vision scientists, binocular rivalry has enjoyed sustained interest for decades dating back to the 19th century (see "Wheatstone's Discovery"). In recent years, rivalry's audience has expanded to include neuroscientists who envision rivalry as a "tool" for exploring the neural concomitants of conscious visual awareness and perceptual organization. This webpage provides students of binocular rivalry with demonstrations -- and brief explanations -- for some of rivalry's hallmark characteristics. More detailed discussion of the spatial and temporal dynamics of binocular rivalry are contained in R. Blake's recent article, which can be downloaded by clicking here. In addition, interested students of rivalry should consult Robert O'Shea's excellent, up-to-date website providing a comprehensive list of published papers dealing with binocular rivalry. For a nicely illustrated description of stereo transparency and rivalry, see Rolf Henkel's webpage.

Each demonstration consists of a pair of grayscale pictures designed to be viewed dichoptically using the 'free fusion' technique (i.e., either crossing your eyes or diverging your eyes to bring the two images into binocular coincidence). People unfamiliar with this technique can consult this website for a brief tutorial. Some of the grayscale demonstrations are static images, but others are QuickTime movies; to experience these demonstrations your browser needs to be outfitted with the QuickTime plug-in. Besides the grayscale/free-fusion versions, some of the demonstrations on this webpage can be experienced by viewing the left- and right-eye images using analghypic (red/green) glasses. Inexpensive pairs of these can be obtained from Berezin Stereo.

Randolph Blake

Vanderbilt Vision Research Center