Genes contribute to the switching dynamics of bistable perception

Robert W. Shannon, Christopher J. Patrick, Yi Jiang, Edward Bernat, Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Ordinarily, the visual system provides an unambiguous representation of the world. However, at times alternative plausible interpretations of a given stimulus arise, resulting in a dynamic perceptual alternation of the differing interpretations, commonly referred to as bistable or rivalrous perception. Recent research suggests that common neural mechanisms may be involved in the dynamics of very different types of bistable phenomena. Further, evidence has emerged that genetic factors may be involved in determining the rate of switch for at least one form of bistable perception, known as binocular rivalry. The current study evaluated whether genetic factors contribute to the switching dynamics for distinctly different variants of bistable perception in the same participant sample. Switching rates were recorded for MZ and DZ twin participants in two different bistable perception tasks, binocular rivalry and the Necker Cube. Strong concordance in switching rates across both tasks was evident for MZ but not DZ twins, indicating that genetic factors indeed contribute to the dynamics of multiple forms of bistable perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


  • Binocular vision
  • Perceptual organization
  • Visual development


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