Christian Valuch and Louisa Kulke

Predictive context biases binocular rivalry in children and adults with no positive relation to two measures of social cognition

Scientific Reports

Integration of prior experience and contextual information can help to resolve perceptually ambiguous situations and might support the ability to understand other peoples’ thoughts and intentions, called Theory of Mind. We studied whether the readiness to incorporate contextual information for resolving binocular rivalry is positively associated with Theory-of-Mind-related social cognitive abilities. In children (12 to 13 years) and adults (18 to 25 years), a predictive temporal context reliably modulated the onset of binocular rivalry to a similar degree. In contrast, adult participants scored better on measures of Theory of Mind compared to children. We observed considerable interindividual differences regarding the influence of a predictive context on binocular rivalry, which were associated with differences in sensory eye dominance. The absence of a positive association between predictive effects on perception and Theory of Mind performance suggests that predictive effects on binocular rivalry and higher-level Theory-of-Mind-related abilities stem from different neurocognitive mechanisms. We conclude that the influence of predictive contextual information on basic visual processes is fully developed at an earlier age, whereas social cognitive skills continue to evolve from adolescence to adulthood.