The independent and shared mechanisms of intrinsic brain dynamics: Insights from bistable perception

Teng Cao, Lan Wang, Zhouyuan Sun, Stephen A. Engel, Sheng He

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19 Scopus citations


In bistable perception, constant input leads to alternating perception. The dynamics of the changing perception reflects the intrinsic dynamic properties of the "unconscious inferential" process in the brain. Under the same condition, individuals differ in how fast they experience the perceptual alternation. In this study, testing many forms of bistable perception in a large number of observers, we investigated the key question of whether there is a general and common mechanism or multiple and independent mechanisms that control the dynamics of the inferential brain. Bistable phenomena tested include binocular rivalry, vase-face, Necker cube, moving plaid, motion induced blindness, biological motion, spinning dancer, rotating cylinder, Lissajous-figure, rolling wheel, and translating diamond. Switching dynamics for each bistable percept was measured in 100 observers. Results show that the switching rates of subsets of bistable percept are highly correlated. The clustering of dynamic properties of some bistable phenomena but not an overall general control of switching dynamics implies that the brain's inferential processes are both shared and independent - faster in constructing 3D structure from motion does not mean faster in integrating components into an objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number589
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 24 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the "Strategic Priority Research Program" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB02050001) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31300937 and 81123002).


  • Bistable perception
  • Clustering
  • Correlation matrix
  • Perceptual rivalry
  • Temporal dynamics

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