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J Neurophysiol. 2015 Feb 15;113(4):1063-76. doi: 10.1152/jn.00338.2014. Epub 2014 Nov 19.

Top-down modulation in human visual cortex predicts the stability of a perceptual illusion.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Amsterdam Center for Brain and Cognition, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; niels.kloosterman@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany;
3
Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Magnetoencephalography Center, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
4
Department of Physics and Medical Technology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Faculty of Movement Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and.
5
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Amsterdam Center for Brain and Cognition, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
6
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Amsterdam Center for Brain and Cognition, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

Conscious perception sometimes fluctuates strongly, even when the sensory input is constant. For example, in motion-induced blindness (MIB), a salient visual target surrounded by a moving pattern suddenly disappears from perception, only to reappear after some variable time. Whereas such changes of perception result from fluctuations of neural activity, mounting evidence suggests that the perceptual changes, in turn, may also cause modulations of activity in several brain areas, including visual cortex. In this study, we asked whether these latter modulations might affect the subsequent dynamics of perception. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure modulations in cortical population activity during MIB. We observed a transient, retinotopically widespread modulation of beta (12-30 Hz)-frequency power over visual cortex that was closely linked to the time of subjects' behavioral report of the target disappearance. This beta modulation was a top-down signal, decoupled from both the physical stimulus properties and the motor response but contingent on the behavioral relevance of the perceptual change. Critically, the modulation amplitude predicted the duration of the subsequent target disappearance. We propose that the transformation of the perceptual change into a report triggers a top-down mechanism that stabilizes the newly selected perceptual interpretation.

KEYWORDS:

beta oscillations; bistable perception; brain dynamics; brain state; perceptual decision-making

PMID:
25411458
PMCID:
PMC4329440
DOI:
10.1152/jn.00338.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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