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J Neurosci. 2010 Jun 16;30(24):8342-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5434-09.2010.

Neuroelectromagnetic correlates of perceptual closure processes.

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  • 1Department of Neurophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Perceptual closure refers to the coherent perception of an object under circumstances when the visual information is incomplete. Although the perceptual closure index observed in electroencephalography reflects that an object has been recognized, the full spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical source activity underlying perceptual closure processing remain unknown so far. To address this question, we recorded magnetoencephalographic activity in 15 subjects (11 females) during a visual closure task and performed beamforming over a sequence of successive short time windows to localize high-frequency gamma-band activity (60-100 Hz). Two-tone images of human faces (Mooney faces) were used to examine perceptual closure. Event-related fields exhibited a magnetic closure index between 250 and 325 ms. Time-frequency analyses revealed sustained high-frequency gamma-band activity associated with the processing of Mooney stimuli; closure-related gamma-band activity was observed between 200 and 300 ms over occipitotemporal channels. Time-resolved source reconstruction revealed an early (0-200 ms) coactivation of caudal inferior temporal gyrus (cITG) and regions in posterior parietal cortex (PPC). At the time of perceptual closure (200-400 ms), the activation in cITG extended to the fusiform gyrus, if a face was perceived. Our data provide the first electrophysiological evidence that perceptual closure for Mooney faces starts with an interaction between areas related to processing of three-dimensional structure from shading cues (cITG) and areas associated with the activation of long-term memory templates (PPC). Later, at the moment of perceptual closure, inferior temporal cortex areas specialized for the perceived object are activated, i.e., the fusiform gyrus related to face processing for Mooney stimuli.

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