Spatially filtered emotional faces dominate during binocular rivalry

Maria Teresa Turano, Fiorenza Giganti, Gioele Gavazzi, Simone Lamberto, Giorgio Gronchi, Fabio Giovannelli, Andrea Peru, Maria Pia Viggiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present investigation explores the role of bottom-up and top-down factors in the recognition of emotional facial expressions during binocular rivalry. We manipulated spatial frequencies (SF) and emotive features and asked subjects to indicate whether the emotional or the neutral expression was dominant during binocular rivalry. Controlling the bottom-up saliency with a computational model, physically comparable happy and fearful faces were presented dichoptically with neutral faces. The results showed the dominance of emotional faces over neutral ones. In particular, happy faces were reported more frequently as the first dominant percept even in the presence of coarse information (at a low SF level: 2–6 cycle/degree). Following current theories of emotion processing, the results provide further support for the influence of positive compared to negative meaning on binocular rivalry and, for the first time, showed that individuals perceive the affective quality of happiness even in the absence of details in the visual display. Furthermore, our findings represent an advance in knowledge regarding the association between the high-and low-level mechanisms behind binocular rivalry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number998
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Binocular rivalry
  • Emotions
  • Facial expressions
  • Happy bias affect
  • Spatial frequencies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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