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PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 Nov 20;13(11):e1005856. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005856. eCollection 2017 Nov.

A hierarchical stochastic model for bistable perception.

Author information

1
Institute of Mathematics, Goethe University, Frankfurt (Main), Germany.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

Viewing of ambiguous stimuli can lead to bistable perception alternating between the possible percepts. During continuous presentation of ambiguous stimuli, percept changes occur as single events, whereas during intermittent presentation of ambiguous stimuli, percept changes occur at more or less regular intervals either as single events or bursts. Response patterns can be highly variable and have been reported to show systematic differences between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Existing models of bistable perception often use detailed assumptions and large parameter sets which make parameter estimation challenging. Here we propose a parsimonious stochastic model that provides a link between empirical data analysis of the observed response patterns and detailed models of underlying neuronal processes. Firstly, we use a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) for the times between percept changes, which assumes one single state in continuous presentation and a stable and an unstable state in intermittent presentation. The HMM captures the observed differences between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls, but remains descriptive. Therefore, we secondly propose a hierarchical Brownian model (HBM), which produces similar response patterns but also provides a relation to potential underlying mechanisms. The main idea is that neuronal activity is described as an activity difference between two competing neuronal populations reflected in Brownian motions with drift. This differential activity generates switching between the two conflicting percepts and between stable and unstable states with similar mechanisms on different neuronal levels. With only a small number of parameters, the HBM can be fitted closely to a high variety of response patterns and captures group differences between healthy controls and patients with schizophrenia. At the same time, it provides a link to mechanistic models of bistable perception, linking the group differences to potential underlying mechanisms.

PMID:
29155808
PMCID:
PMC5714404
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005856
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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