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Cereb Cortex. 2003 May;13(5):461-74.

The neural correlates of conscious vision.

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Institute of Psychiatry, De Creespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK.


Conflicting accounts of the neurobiology of consciousness have emerged from previous imaging studies. Some studies suggest that visual consciousness relates to a distributed network of frontal and partietal regions while others point to localized activity within individual visual areas. While the two positions seem mutually exclusive, timing issues may help reconcile the two. Networks that appear unified in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies may reflect processes that are widely distributed in time. To help resolve this issue, we have investigated timing across a network correlating with consciousness in parallel fMRI and evoked potential (EP) studies of grating stimuli. At threshold, a stimulus is perceived on some occasions but not on others, dissociating sensory input and perception. We have found correlates of consciousness in the occipital lobe at 100 ms and in parietal, frontal, auditory and motor regions from 260 ms onwards. The broad temporal and spatial distribution of activity argues against a unified, distributed fronto-parietal correlate of consciousness. Instead, it suggests that correlates of consciousness are divided into primary and secondary network nodes, with early activity in the occipital lobe correlating with perception and later activity in downstream areas with secondary processes contingent on the outcome of earlier perceptual processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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