Neural markers of suppression in impaired binocular vision

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Even after conventional patching treatment, individuals with a history of amblyopia typically lack good stereo vision. This is often attributed to atypical suppression between the eyes, yet the specific mechanism is still unclear. Guided by computational models of binocular vision, we tested explicit predictions about how neural responses to contrast might differ in individuals with impaired binocular vision. Participants with a history of amblyopia (N = 25), and control participants with typical visual development (N = 19) took part in the study. Neural responses to different combinations of contrast in the left and right eyes, were measured using both electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Stimuli were sinusoidal gratings with a spatial frequency of 3c/deg, flickering at 4 Hz. In the fMRI experiment, we also ran population receptive field and retinotopic mapping sequences, and a phase-encoded localiser stimulus, to identify voxels in primary visual cortex (V1) sensitive to the main stimulus. Neural responses in both modalities increased monotonically with stimulus contrast. When measured with EEG, responses were attenuated in the weaker eye, consistent with a fixed tonic suppression of that eye. When measured with fMRI, a low contrast stimulus in the weaker eye substantially reduced the response to a high contrast stimulus in the stronger eye. This effect was stronger than when the stimulus-eye pairings were reversed, consistent with unbalanced dynamic suppression between the eyes. Measuring neural responses using different methods leads to different conclusions about visual differences in individuals with impaired binocular vision. Both of the atypical suppression effects may relate to binocular perceptual deficits, e.g. in stereopsis, and we anticipate that these measures could be informative for monitoring the progress of treatments aimed at recovering binocular vision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117780
Early online date24 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

©2021 The Author(s).


  • Dichoptic
  • fMRI
  • Interocular suppression
  • V1

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