Separability and commonality of auditory and visual bistable perception

Hirohito M. Kondo*, Norimichi Kitagawa, Miho Kitamura, Ai Koizumi, Michio Nomura, Makio Kashino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


It is unclear what neural processes induce individual differences in perceptual organization in different modalities. To examine this issue, the present study used different forms of bistable perception: auditory streaming, verbal transformations, visual plaids, and reversible figures. We performed factor analyses on the number of perceptual switches in the tasks. A 3-factor model provided a better fit to the data than the other possible models. These factors, namely the "auditory," "shape," and "motion" factors, were separable but correlated with each other. We compared the number of perceptual switches among genotype groups to identify the effects of neurotransmitter functions on the factors. We focused on polymorphisms of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val 158Met and serotonin 2A receptor (HTR2A)-1438G/A genes, which are involved in the modulation of dopamine and serotonin, respectively. The number of perceptual switches in auditory streaming and verbal transformations differed among COMT genotype groups, whereas that in reversible figures differed among HTR2A genotype groups. The results indicate that the auditory and shape factors reflect the functions of the dopamine and serotonin systems, respectively. Our findings suggest that the formation and selection of percepts involve neural processes in cortical and subcortical areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1915-1922
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • awareness
  • brainstem
  • consciousness
  • human
  • illusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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