The goal of the proposed collaborative research is to advance the understanding of the mechanisms underlying binocular rivalry, a significant unresolved issue in neuroscience, through the establishment of a novel computational spatio-temporal neuroimaging methodology with broad applications. Our two eyes normally work in tandem to give us a coherent and unique representation of the visual world. However, when two different images are presented one to each eye, perception alternates between them, a phenomenon known as binocular rivalry. Binocular rivalry has attached significant attention from the neuroscience community, because its understanding is key to understanding how visual information from the two eyes is combined and also because binocular rivalry has become the main model system for studying neural mechanisms of visual awareness and consciousness. Given the rapid development in neuroimaging techniques in recent years and the critical questions that remain to be addressed in binocular rivalry, the opportunity is ripe for a close collaboration between neuroscientist and biomedical engineers to develop innovative computational approaches and push forward the frontiers of spatiotemporal imaging to answer critical questions in binocular rivalry. Intellectual Merits: This collaborative research project wll advance both neuroscience research and computational neuroimaging by addressing the following specific aims:
Aim 1. Simultaneous fMRI and EEG measurement and computational multimodal neuroimaging of binocular rivalry. We will establish a novel multimodal computational spatio-temporal neuroimaging approach that measures and integrates simultaneous fMRI and EEG signals of brain activity during binocular rivalry.
This Aim will answer key questions related to binocular rivalry, and significantly advance the state of the art o binocular rivalry research and the spatio-temporal computational neuroimaging methodology for brain mapping, allowing high resolution spatio-temporal imaging of the pattern of brain activity that underlies the resolution of binocular rivalry.
Aim 2. Application of method to study components of binocular rivalry and mechanisms of stimulus rivalry. We will used combined fMRI and EEG to be developed in Aim 1 to investigate the component mechanisms of binocular rivalry, and to test predictions based on influential computational models of binocular rivalry. We will identify the neural correlates of two dynamic stages of rivalry initiation and rivalry maintenance. We will investigate the neural mechanisms responsible for stimulus rivalry. Of innovation are the key hypotheses to be tested in the proposed experimental investigation, and the multi-modal computational neuroimaging approach. The highly promising preliminary results demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach and indicate the high likelihood of success of the carefully designed and developments. Broader Impacts: The proposed project will have broad impacts to 1) advance basic neuroscience research, 2) promote public health, and 3) educate and train the next generation of scientific leaders including women and members of under-represented groups. Understanding the mechanisms of binocular rivalry has important implications for understanding the neural basis of consciousness, as well as how our brain resolves conflicting input information. The successful completion of the proposed research will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of binocular rivalry and advancement of a novel multimodal computational neuroimaging approach, which promises to image brain activity with high resolution in both space and time. As such the proposed project will have a significant impact for study of a broad range of topics in cognitive neuroscience, from perception through cognition and mental disorders, and imaging science for solving inverse problem with broad applications in science and engineering. Understanding binocular interactions will also lead to a better understanding of mechanisms of visual disorders, such as amblyopia, one of the most common visual disorders, resulting from cortical weakening of one eye's inputs. Understanding the mechanisms of suppression in rivalry and of integration when rivalry does not occur may significantly advance the management of various visual disorders such as amblyopia. Furthermore, through the proposed training of graduate students and postdocs including women and members of under-represented groups, the project will have broad impacts of training of the next generation of scientific leaders.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is aimed at understanding the mechanisms of interactions between two eyes;these mechanisms are known to be affected in amblyopia, one of the common visual disorders. Understanding the mechanisms of suppression in rivalry, and of integration when rivalry does not occur, may have important implications for the management of visual disorders including amblyopia.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-B (55))
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Steinmetz, Michael A
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Biomedical Engineering
Schools of Engineering
United States
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