Acquafredda, M., Sarı, İ. D., Steinwurzel, C., Lunghi, C. & Binda, P. (2023). Measuring the reliability of binocular rivalry. Journal of vision vol. 23.  https://doi:10.1167/jov.23.10.5      


Binocular rivalry is a widely used tool in sensory and cognitive neuroscience to investigate different aspects of vision and cognition. The dynamics of binocular rivalry (e.g., duration of perceptual dominance phases and mixed percept proportions) differ across individuals; based on rivalry dynamics, it is also possible to calculate an index of ocular dominance (by comparing the perceptual dominance of the images in the two eyes). In this study, we investigated the reliability of binocular rivalry dynamics using different methods for dichoptic stimulation and different rivalry stimuli. For the three main indices we defined (ocular dominance, phase durations and mixed percept proportions), we found a high test-retest reliability across sessions. Moreover, the test-retest reliability of the ocular dominance index was predictable from its internal consistency, supporting its stability over time. Phase durations and mixed percept proportions, in contrast, had worse test-retest reliability than expected based on internal consistency, indicating that these parameters are susceptible to state-dependent changes. Our results support the use of the ocular dominance index and binocular rivalry in the measurement of sensory eye dominance and its plasticity, but advise caution when investigating the association between phase durations or mixed percepts and stable characteristics like psychological traits or disorders. 

Sarı, İ. D., & Lunghi, C. (2023). Different Forms of Plasticity Interact in Adult Humans. ENeuro, 10(7), ENEURO.0204-22.2023. 


Neuroplasticity is maximal during development and declines in adulthood, especially for sensory cortices. On the other hand, the motor and prefrontal cortices retain plasticity throughout the lifespan. This difference has led to a modular view of plasticity in which different brain regions have their own plasticity mechanisms that do not depend or translate on others. Recent evidence shows that visual and motor plasticity share common neural mechanisms (e.g., GABAergic inhibition), indicating a possible link between these different forms of plasticity, however, the interaction between visual and motor plasticity has never been tested directly. Here, we show that when visual and motor plasticity are elicited at the same time in adult humans, visual plasticity is impaired, while motor plasticity is spared. Moreover, simultaneous activation of working memory and visual plasticity also leads to impairment in visual plasticity. These unilateral interactions between visual, working memory, and motor plasticity demonstrate a clear link between these three forms of plasticity. We conclude that local neuroplasticity in separate systems might be regulated globally, to preserve overall homeostasis in the brain.

Prosper, A., Pasqualetti, M., Morrone, M. C. & Lunghi, C. The duration effect of short-term monocular deprivation measured by binocular rivalry and binocular combination. Vision Res. 211, 108278 (2023). 


The ocular dominance shift observed after short-term monocular deprivation is a widely used measure of visual homeostatic plasticity in adult humans. Binocular rivalry and binocular combination techniques are used interchangeably to characterize homeostatic plasticity, sometimes leading to contradictory results. Here we directly compare the effect of short-term monocular deprivation on ocular dominance measured by either binocular rivalry or binocular combination and its dependence on the duration of deprivation (15 or 120 min) in the same group of participants. Our results show that both binocular rivalry and binocular combination provide reliable estimates of ocular dominance, which are strongly correlated across techniques both before and after deprivation. Moreover, while 15 min of monocular deprivation induce a larger shift of ocular dominance when measured using binocular combination compared to binocular rivalry, for both techniques, the shift in ocular dominance exhibits a strong dependence on the duration of monocular deprivation, with longer deprivation inducing a larger and longer-lasting shift in ocular dominance. Taken together, our results indicate that both binocular rivalry and binocular combination offer very consistent and reliable  measurements of both ocular dominance and the effect short-term monocular deprivation.

Lunghi, C. & Pooresmaeili, A. (2023). Learned value modulates the access to visual awareness during continuous flash suppression. Sci. Reports 2023 131 13, 1–8 .   


Monetary value enhances visual perception and attention and boosts activity in the primary visual cortex, however, it is still unclear whether monetary value can modulate the conscious access to rewarding stimuli. Here we investigate this issue by employing a breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS) paradigm. We measured suppression durations of sinusoidal gratings having orthogonal orientations under CFS in adult volunteers before and after a short session of Pavlovian associative learning in which each orientation was arbitrarily associated either with high or low monetary reward. We found that monetary value accelerated the access to visual awareness during CFS. Specifically, after the associative learning, suppression durations of the visual stimulus associated with high monetary value were shorter compared to the visual stimulus associated with low monetary value. Critically, the effect was replicated in a second experiment using a detection task for b-CFS that was orthogonal to the reward associative learning. These results indicate that monetary reward facilitates the access to awareness of visual stimuli associated with monetary value probably by boosting their representation at the early stages of visual processing in the brain.


Tonelli, A., Lunghi, C., & Gori, M. (2022). Moderate physical activity alters the estimation of time, but not space. Frontiers in Psychology, 0, 5470. 


Moderate physical activity can influence cognitive functions and visual cortical activity. However, little is known about the effects of exercise on fundamental perceptual domains, such as spatial and temporal representation. Here we tackled this issue by testing the impact of physical activity on a temporal estimation task in a group of adult volunteers in three different conditions: (1) in a resting condition (baseline), (2) during moderate physical activity (cycling in place - PA), and (3) approximately 15 to 20 minutes following the physical activity phase, in which participants were seated and returned to a regular heart rate (POST). We show that physical activity specifically impacts time perception, inducing a consistent overestimation for durations in the range of milliseconds. Notably, the effect persisted in the POST session, ruling out the main contribution of either heart rate or cycling rhythmicity. In a control experiment, we found that spatial perception (distance estimation) was unaffected by physical activity, ruling out a major contribution of arousal and fatigue to the observed temporal distortion. We speculate that physical exercise might alter temporal estimation either by up-regulating the dopaminergic system or modulating GABAergic inhibition. 

Menicucci, D., Lunghi, C., Zaccaro, A., Morrone, M. C., & Gemignani, A. (2022). Mutual interaction between visual homeostatic plasticity and sleep in adult humans. ELife, 11. 


Sleep and plasticity are highly interrelated, as sleep slow oscillations and sleep spindles are associated with consolidation of Hebbian-based processes. However, in adult humans, visual cortical plasticity is mainly sustained by homeostatic mechanisms, for which the role of sleep is still largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that non-REM sleep stabilizes homeostatic plasticity of ocular dominance induced in adult humans by short-term monocular deprivation: the counterintuitive and otherwise transient boost of the deprived eye was preserved at the morning awakening (>6 hr after deprivation). Subjects exhibiting a stronger boost of the deprived eye after sleep had increased sleep spindle density in frontopolar electrodes, suggesting the involvement of distributed processes. Crucially, the individual susceptibility to visual homeostatic plasticity soon after deprivation correlated with the changes in sleep slow oscillations and spindle power in occipital sites, consistent with a modulation in early occipital visual cortex. 

Acquafredda, M., Binda, P. & Lunghi, C.
Attention cueing in rivalry: insights from pupillometry. eNeuro (2022).


We used pupillometry to evaluate the effects of attention cueing on perceptual bi-stability, as reported by adult human observers. Perceptual alternations and pupil diameter were measured during two forms of rivalry, generated by presenting a white and a black disk to the two eyes (binocular rivalry) or splitting the disks between eyes (interocular grouping rivalry). In line with previous studies, we found that subtle pupil size modulations (about 0.05 mm) tracked alternations between exclusive dominance phases of the black or white disk. These pupil responses were larger for perceptually stronger stimuli: presented to the dominant eye or with physically higher luminance contrast. However, cueing of endogenous attention to one of the rivaling percepts did not affect pupil modulations during exclusive dominance phases. This was observed despite the reliable effects of endogenous attention on perceptual dominance, which shifted in favor of the cued percept by about 10%. The results were comparable for binocular and interocular grouping rivalry. Cueing only had a marginal modulatory effect on pupil size during mixed percepts in binocular rivalry. This may suggest that, rather than acting by modulating perceptual strength, endogenous attention primarily acts during periods of unresolved competition, which is compatible with attention being automatically directed to the rivaling stimuli during periods of exclusive dominance and thereby sustaining perceptual alternations.