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An integrative model of binocular vision:

A stereo model utilizing interocularly unpaired points produces both depth and binocular rivalry

Hayashi R, Maeda T, Shimojo S, Tachi S.


Half-occluded points (visible only in one eye) are perceived at a certain depth behind the occluding surface without binocular rivalry, even though no disparity is defined at such points. Here we propose a stereo model that reconstructs 3D structures not only from disparity information of interocularly paired points but also from unpaired points. Starting with an array of depth detection cells, we introduce cells that detect unpaired points visible only in the left eye or the right eye (left and right unpaired point detection cells). They interact cooperatively with each other based on optogeometrical constraints (such as uniqueness, cohesiveness, occlusion) to recover the depth and the border of 3D objects.

Since it is contradictory for monocularly visible regions to be visible in both eyes, we introduce mutual inhibition between left and right unpaired point detection cells. When input images satisfy occlusion geometry, the model outputs the depth of unpaired points properly. An interesting finding is that when we input two unmatched images, the model shows an unstable output that alternates between interpretations of monocularly visible regions for the left and the right eyes, thereby reproducing binocular rivalry. The results suggest that binocular rivalry arises from the erroneous output of a stereo mechanism that estimates the depth of half-occluded unpaired points. In this sense, our model integrates stereopsis and binocular rivalry, which are usually treated separately, into a single framework of binocular vision.

There are two general theories for what the "rivals" are during binocular rivalry: the two eyes, or representations of two stimulus patterns. We propose a new hypothesis that bridges these two conflicting hypotheses: interocular inhibition between representations of monocularly visible regions causes binocular rivalry. Unlike the traditional eye theory, the level of the interocular inhibition introduced here is after binocular convergence at the stage solving the correspondence problem, and thus open to pattern-specific mechanisms.