When an observer is presented with dissimilar images to the right and left eye, the images will alternate every few seconds in a phenomenon known as binocular rivalry. During sustained viewing, the timing of these switches appears to be unpredictable. Recent research has suggested that the initial 'onset' period of rivalry is not random and may be different in its neural mechanism than subsequent dominance periods. It is known that differences in luminance and contrast have a significant influence on the average dominance during sustained rivalry and that perception of luminance can vary between individuals and across the visual field. We therefore investigated whether perception of luminance contrast plays a role in onset rivalry. Observers viewed rival targets of equal brightness for brief presentations in eight locations of the near periphery and reported the color that was first dominant in each location. Results show that minimizing differences in brightness and contrast yields a stronger pattern of onset dominance bias and reveals evidence of monocular dominance. The results suggest that both contrast and monocular dominance play a role in onset dominance, though neither can fully explain the effect.
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