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Binocular Balance in Normal Vision and Its Modulation by Mean Luminance

Zhang, Peng; Bobier, William; Thompson, Benjamin; Hess, Robert F.

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3182217295
Original Article

Purpose. To better understand the neural basis of sensory dominance in the normal population, we applied a recently established test designed to quantify the degree of suppression in amblyopia to participants with normal binocular vision.

Methods. This test quantifies the degree of dichoptic imbalance in coherent motion sensitivity by manipulating the contrast of stimuli seen by the two eyes. The contrast at which balanced dichoptic motion sensitivity occurs is referred to as the “balance point” and is an estimate of the degree of suppression. We apply the same logic to the measurement of sensory dominance by measuring the distribution of “balance points” within the normal population.

Results. We show that although most subjects are balanced or only weakly imbalanced, a minority is strongly imbalanced. To ascertain the site of sensory dominance, we assessed the degree to which normal sensory balance can be modulated by changing the interocular mean luminance. We found that mismatches in mean luminance between the two eyes had a pronounced effect on the balance point determination.

Conclusions. Because cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus exhibit a strong modulation to sustained changes in the mean light level, this may suggests that the inhibitory circuits underlying sensory eye dominance are located at a precortical site.




School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (PZ, WB), Department of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand (BT), and the Department of Ophthalmology, McGill University, Quebec, Canada (RFH).

Received November 4, 2010; accepted April 14, 2011.

Robert F. Hess, The Department of Ophthalmology, McGill University, 687 Pine Avenue West Rm H4-14, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A1, Canada, e-mail:

© 2011 American Academy of Optometry