Miriam Acquafredda, Paola Binda and Claudia Lunghi
Attention Cueing in Rivalry :Insights from Pupillometry
eNeuro 6 June 2022
We used pupillometry to evaluate the effects of attention cueing on perceptual bi-stability, as reported by adult human observers. Perceptual alternations and pupil diameter were measured during two forms of rivalry, generated by presenting a white and a black disk to the two eyes (binocular rivalry) or splitting the disks between eyes (interocular grouping rivalry). In line with previous studies, we found that subtle pupil size modulations (∼0.05 mm) tracked alternations between exclusive dominance phases of the black or white disk. These pupil responses were larger for perceptually stronger stimuli: presented to the dominant eye or with physically higher luminance contrast. However, cueing of endogenous attention to one of the rivaling percepts did not affect pupil modulations during exclusive dominance phases. This was observed despite the reliable effects of endogenous attention on perceptual dominance, which shifted in favor of the cued percept by ∼10%. The results were comparable for binocular and interocular grouping rivalry. Cueing only had a marginal modulatory effect on pupil size during mixed percepts in binocular rivalry. This may suggest that, rather than acting by modulating perceptual strength, endogenous attention primarily acts during periods of unresolved competition, which is compatible with attention being automatically directed to the rivaling stimuli during periods of exclusive dominance and thereby sustaining perceptual alternations.