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Journal Article

Surface area of early visual cortex predicts individual speed of traveling waves during binocular rivalry


Singer,  W.
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

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Genc, E., Bergmann, J., Singer, W., & Kohler, A. (2015). Surface area of early visual cortex predicts individual speed of traveling waves during binocular rivalry. Cerebral Cortex, 25(6). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24334918.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-D170-E
Binocular rivalry ensues when different images are presented to the 2 eyes with conscious perception alternating between the possible interpretations. For large rivalry displays, perceptual transitions are initiated at one location and spread to other parts of the visual field, a phenomenon termed "traveling wave." Previous studies investigated the underlying neural mechanisms of the traveling wave and surmised that primary visual cortex might play an important role. We used magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral measures in humans to explore how interindividual differences in observers' subjective experience of the wave are related to anatomical characteristics of cortical regions. We measured wave speed in participants and confirmed the long-term stability of the individual values. Retinotopic mapping was employed to delineate borders of visual areas V1-V3 in order to determine surface area and cortical thickness in those regions. Only the surface areas of V1 and V2, but not V3 showed a correlation with wave speed. For individuals with larger V1/V2 area, the traveling wave needed longer to spread across the same distance in visual space. Our results highlight the role of early visual areas in mediating binocular rivalry and suggest possible mechanisms for the correlation between surface area and the traveling waves.