MRI Stereoscope: A Miniature Stereoscope for Human Neuroimaging
Ip IB., Alvarez I., Tacon M., Parker AJ., Bridge H.
Stereoscopic vision enables the perception of depth. To study the brain mechanisms behind stereoscopic vision using noninvasive brain imaging (magnetic resonance brain imaging; MRI), scientists need to reproduce the independent views of the left and right eyes in the brain scanner using “dichoptic” displays. However, high-quality dichoptic displays are technically challenging and costly to implement in the MRI scanner. The novel miniature stereoscope system (“MRI stereoscope”) is an affordable and open-source tool that displays high-quality dichoptic images inside the MRI scanner. The MRI stereoscope takes advantage of commonly used display equipment, the MRI head coil, and a display screen. To validate the MRI stereoscope, binocular disparity stimuli were presented in a 3T MRI scanner while neural activation was recorded using functional MRI in six human participants. The comparison of large binocular disparities compared with disparities close to zero evoked strong responses across dorsal and ventral extra-striate visual cortex. In contrast, binocularly anti-correlated stimuli, which are not perceived in depth, did not evoke comparable activation. These results are the proof-of-concept that the MRI stereoscope can deliver dichoptic images that produce the perception of stereoscopic depth during acquisition of MR responses. Application of the MRI stereoscope to neuroscience can help to address important questions in perception and consciousness.