Attention periodically samples competing stimuli during binocular rivalry

Matthew J Davidson, David Alais, Jeroen JA van Boxtel, Naotsugu Tsuchiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The attentional sampling hypothesis suggests that attention rhythmically enhances sensory processing when attending to a single (~8 Hz), or multiple (~4 Hz) objects. Here, we investigated whether attention samples sensory representations that are not part of the conscious percept during binocular rivalry. When crossmodally cued toward a conscious image, subsequent changes in consciousness occurred at ~8 Hz, consistent with the rates of undivided attentional sampling. However, when attention was cued toward the suppressed image, changes in consciousness slowed to ~3.5 Hz, indicating the division of attention away from the conscious visual image. In the electroencephalogram, we found that at attentional sampling frequencies, the strength of inter-trial phase-coherence over fronto-temporal and parieto-occipital regions correlated with changes in perception. When cues were not task-relevant, these effects disappeared, confirming that perceptual changes were dependent upon the allocation of attention, and that attention can flexibly sample away from a conscious image in a task-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere40868
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2018


  • binocular rivalry
  • crossmodal stimulation
  • EEG
  • human
  • neuroscience
  • periodic sampling
  • visual attention

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