Neural Correlates of Conscious Perception. The Role of Primary Visual Cortex in Visual Awareness.
Haynes, John-Dylan
Universität Bremen: Biologie/Chemie
Visual Awareness, Consciousness, EEG, MEG, Contrast Perception, Primary Visual Cortex
This study investigates which neural populations represent low-level dimensions of conscious perception. First, a general framework is presented that will allow the separation of different aspects of visual awareness. A set of six criteria is developed that allows one to assess whether a neural population could in principle represent a dimension of conscious perception. These criteria are then applied to previous studies on the neurophysiology and neuropsychology of conscious perception. In the following empirical section a study on the relationship between perceived contrast and activity in primary visual cortex is performed using a combination of EEG, MEG and psychophysics. Lateral masking was used to dissociate the physical and the perceived contrast of a target grating. Transient potentials and magnetic fields evoked by the flashed target gratings were recorded and compared to psychophysical judgements of perceived contrast. At all investigated contrast levels, the amplitudes of electrophysiological transients correlated better with perceived than with physical target contrast. This held especially for the late transient. Source localisation indicated that the transients in question are likely to originate in primary visual cortex. The study presented here is the first ever to study perceptual constancy by recording psychophysics and physiological responses synchronously. The results identify the activity of primary visual cortex as the most likely neural basis of perceived contrast.
Neural Correlates of Conscious Perception. The Role of Primary Visual Cortex in Visual Awareness.
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