Elizabeth S. Lorenc; Annelinde R. E. Vandenbroucke; Derek E. Nee; Floris P. Lange; Mark D'Esposito
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 10, pp. 11195, 2020.
In daily life, we use visual working memory (WM) to guide our actions. While attending to currently-relevant information, we must simultaneously maintain future-relevant information, and discard information that is no longer relevant. However, the neural mechanisms by which unattended, but future-relevant, information is maintained in working memory, and future-irrelevant information is discarded, are not well understood. Here, we investigated representations of these different information types, using functional magnetic resonance imaging in combination with multivoxel pattern analysis and computational modeling based on inverted encoding model simulations. We found that currently-relevant WM information in the focus of attention was maintained through representations in visual, parietal and posterior frontal brain regions,whereas deliberate forgetting led to suppression of the discarded representations in early visual cortex. In contrast, future-relevant information was neither inhibited nor actively maintained in these areas. These findings suggest that different neural mechanisms underlie the WM representation of currently- and future-relevant information, as compared to information that is discarded from WM.
Johan N. van Meer; Michael Breakspear; Luke J. Chang; Saurabh Sonkusare; Luca Cocchi
Movie viewing elicits rich and reliable brain state dynamics Journal Article
In: Nature Communications, vol. 11, pp. 5004, 2020.
Adaptive brain function requires that sensory impressions of the social and natural milieu are dynamically incorporated into intrinsic brain activity. While dynamic switches between brain states have been well characterised in resting state acquisitions, the remodelling of these state transitions by engagement in naturalistic stimuli remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the temporal dynamics of brain states, as measured in fMRI, are reshaped from predominantly bistable transitions between two relatively indistinct states at rest, toward a sequence of well-defined functional states during movie viewing whose transitions are temporally aligned to specific features of the movie. The expression of these brain states covaries with different physiological states and reflects subjectively rated engagement in the movie. In sum, a data-driven decoding of brain states reveals the distinct reshaping of functional network expression and reliable state transitions that accompany the switch from resting state to perceptual immersion in an ecologically valid sensory experience.
Simona Monaco; Giulia Malfatti; Jody C. Culham; Luigi Cattaneo; Luca Turella
In: NeuroImage, vol. 218, pp. 116981, 2020.
Recent evidence points to a role of the primary visual cortex that goes beyond visual processing into high-level cognitive and motor-related functions, including action planning, even in absence of feedforward visual information. It has been proposed that, at the neural level, motor imagery is a simulation based on motor representations, and neuroimaging studies have shown overlapping and shared activity patterns for motor imagery and action execution in frontal and parietal cortices. Yet, the role of the early visual cortex in motor imagery remains unclear. Here we used multivoxel pattern analyses on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data to examine whether the content of motor imagery and action intention can be reliably decoded from the activity patterns in the retinotopic location of the target object in the early visual cortex. Further, we investigated whether the discrimination between specific actions generalizes across imagined and intended movements. Eighteen right-handed human participants (11 females) imagined or performed delayed hand actions towards a centrally located object composed of a small shape attached on a large shape. Actions consisted of grasping the large or small shape, and reaching to the center of the object. We found that despite comparable fMRI signal amplitude for different planned and imagined movements, activity patterns in the early visual cortex, as well as dorsal premotor and anterior intraparietal cortex, accurately represented action plans and action imagery. However, movement content is similar irrespective of whether actions are actively planned or covertly imagined in parietal but not early visual or premotor cortex, suggesting a generalized motor representation only in regions that are highly specialized in object directed grasping actions and movement goals. In sum, action planning and imagery have overlapping but non identical neural mechanisms in the cortical action network.
Cristian Morales; Suril Gohel; Xiaobo Li; Mitchell Scheiman; Bharat B. Biswal; Elio M. Santos; Chang Yaramothu; Tara L. Alvarez
In: Neuroscience Bulletin, vol. 36, no. 5, pp. 506–518, 2020.
Vergence eye movements are the inward and outward rotation of the eyes responsible for binocular coordination. While studies have mapped and investigated the neural substrates of vergence, it is not well understood whether vergence eye movements evoke the blood oxygen level-dependent signal reliably in separate experimental visits. The test–retest reliability of stimulus-induced vergence eye movement tasks during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment is important for future randomized clinical trials (RCTs). In this study, we established region of interest (ROI) masks for the vergence neural circuit. Twenty-seven binocularly normal young adults participated in two functional imaging sessions measured on different days on the same 3T Siemens scanner. The fMRI experiments used a block design of sustained visual fixation and rest blocks interleaved between task blocks that stimulated eight or four vergence eye movements. The test–retest reliability of task-activation was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and that of spatial extent was assessed using the Dice coefficient. Functional activation during the vergence eye movement task of eight movements compared to rest was repeatable within the primary visual cortex (ICC = 0.8), parietal eye fields (ICC = 0.6), supplementary eye field (ICC = 0.5), frontal eye fields (ICC = 0.5), and oculomotor vermis (ICC = 0.6). The results demonstrate significant test–retest reliability in the ROIs of the vergence neural substrates for functional activation magnitude and spatial extent using the stimulus protocol of a task block stimulating eight vergence eye movements compared to sustained fixation. These ROIs can be used in future longitudinal RCTs to study patient populations with vergence dysfunctions.
Cristian Morales; Suril Gohel; Mitchell Scheiman; Xiaobo Li; Elio M. Santos; Ayushi Sangoi; Tara L. Alvarez
In: Journal of Vision, vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 1–15, 2020.
This study was designed to identify the neural substrates activated during a phoria adaptation task using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in young adults with normal binocular vision and to test the repeatability of the fMRI measurements for this protocol. The phoria adaptation task consisted of a block protocol of 90 seconds of near visual crossed fixation followed by 90 seconds of far visual uncrossed fixation, repeated three times; the data were collected during two different experimental sessions. Results showed that the oculomotor vermis, cuneus, and primary visual cortex had the greatest functional activity within the regions of interest studied when stimulated by the phoria adaptation task. The oculomotor vermis functional activity had an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.3, whereas the bilateral cuneus and primary visual cortex had good ICC results of greater than 0.6. These results suggest that the sustained visual fixation task described within this study reliably activates the neural substrates of phoria adaptation. This protocol establishes a methodology that can be used in future longitudinal studies investigating therapeutic interventions that may modify phoria adaptation.
Dillan J. Newbold; Timothy O. Laumann; Catherine R. Hoyt; Jacqueline M. Hampton; David F. Montez; Ryan V. Raut; Mario Ortega; Anish Mitra; Ashley N. Nielsen; Derek B. Miller; Babatunde Adeyemo; Annie L. Nguyen; Kristen M. Scheidter; Aaron B. Tanenbaum; Andrew N. Van; Scott Marek; Bradley L. Schlaggar; Alexandre R. Carter; Deanna J. Greene; Evan M. Gordon; Marcus E. Raichle; Steven E. Petersen; Abraham Z. Snyder; Nico U. F. Dosenbach
In: Neuron, vol. 107, no. 3, pp. 580–589.e6, 2020.
To induce brain plasticity in humans, we casted the dominant upper extremity for 2 weeks and tracked changes in functional connectivity using daily 30-min scans of resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). Casting caused cortical and cerebellar regions controlling the disused extremity to functionally disconnect from the rest of the somatomotor system, while internal connectivity within the disused sub-circuit was maintained. Functional disconnection was evident within 48 h, progressed throughout the cast period, and reversed after cast removal. During the cast period, large, spontaneous pulses of activity propagated through the disused somatomotor sub-circuit. The adult brain seems to rely on regular use to maintain its functional architecture. Disuse-driven spontaneous activity pulses may help preserve functionally disconnected sub-circuits.
Masih Rahmati; Kevin DeSimone; Clayton E. Curtis; Kartik K. Sreenivasan
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 49, pp. 9487–9495, 2020.
Theoretically, working memory (WM) representations are encoded by population activity of neurons with distributed tuning across the stored feature. Here, we leverage computational neuroimaging approaches to map the topographic organization of human superior colliculus (SC) and model how population activity in SC encodes WM representations. We first modeled receptive field properties of voxels in SC, deriving a detailed topographic organization resembling that of the primate SC. Neural activity within human (5 male and 1 female) SC persisted throughout a retention interval of several types of modified memory-guided saccade tasks. Assuming an underlying neural architecture of the SC based on its retinotopic organization, we used an encoding model to show that the pattern of activity in human SC represents locations stored in WM. Our tasks and models allowed us to dissociate the locations of visual targets and the motor metrics of memory-guided saccades from the spatial locations stored in WM, thus confirming that human SC represents true WM information. These data have several important implications. They add the SC to a growing number of cortical and subcortical brain areas that form distributed networks supporting WM functions. Moreover, they specify a clear neural mechanism by which topographically organized SC encodes WM representations.
Leyla Isik; Anna Mynick; Dimitrios Pantazis; Nancy Kanwisher
The speed of human social interaction perception Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 215, pp. 116844, 2020.
The ability to perceive others' social interactions, here defined as the directed contingent actions between two or more people, is a fundamental part of human experience that develops early in infancy and is shared with other primates. However, the neural computations underlying this ability remain largely unknown. Is social interaction recognition a rapid feedforward process or a slower post-perceptual inference? Here we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) decoding to address this question. Subjects in the MEG viewed snapshots of visually matched real-world scenes containing a pair of people who were either engaged in a social interaction or acting independently. The presence versus absence of a social interaction could be read out from subjects' MEG data spontaneously, even while subjects performed an orthogonal task. This readout generalized across different people and scenes, revealing abstract representations of social interactions in the human brain. These representations, however, did not come online until quite late, at 300 ms after image onset, well after feedforward visual processes. In a second experiment, we found that social interaction readout still occurred at this same late latency even when subjects performed an explicit task detecting social interactions. We further showed that MEG responses distinguished between different types of social interactions (mutual gaze vs joint attention) even later, around 500 ms after image onset. Taken together, these results suggest that the human brain spontaneously extracts information about others' social interactions, but does so slowly, likely relying on iterative top-down computations.
Jakub Limanowski; Vladimir Litvak; Karl Friston
In: NeuroImage, vol. 222, pp. 117267, 2020.
In sensorimotor integration, the brain needs to decide how its predictions should accommodate novel evidence by ‘gating' sensory data depending on the current context. Here, we examined the oscillatory correlates of this process by recording magnetoencephalography (MEG) data during a new task requiring action under intersensory conflict. We used virtual reality to decouple visual (virtual) and proprioceptive (real) hand postures during a task in which the phase of grasping movements tracked a target (in either modality). Thus, we rendered visual information either task-relevant or a (to-be-ignored) distractor. Under visuo-proprioceptive incongruence, occipital beta power decreased (relative to congruence) when vision was task-relevant but increased when it had to be ignored. Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) revealed that this interaction was best explained by diametrical, task-dependent changes in visual gain. These results suggest a crucial role for beta oscillations in the contextual gating (i.e., gain or precision control) of visual vs proprioceptive action feedback, depending on current behavioral demands.
Brain dynamics for confidence-weighted learning Journal Article
In: PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. e1007935, 2020.
Learning in a changing, uncertain environment is a difficult problem. A popular solution is to predict future observations and then use surprising outcomes to update those predictions. However, humans also have a sense of confidence that characterizes the precision of their predictions. Bayesian models use a confidence-weighting principle to regulate learning: For a given surprise, the update is smaller when the confidence about the prediction was higher. Prior behavioral evidence indicates that human learning adheres to this confidence-weighting principle. Here, we explored the human brain dynamics sub-tending the confidenceweighting of learning using magneto-encephalography (MEG). During our volatile probability learning task, subjects' confidence reports conformed with Bayesian inference. MEG revealed several stimulus-evoked brain responses whose amplitude reflected surprise, and some of them were further shaped by confidence: Surprise amplified the stimulus-evoked response whereas confidence dampened it. Confidence about predictions also modulated several aspects of the brain state: Pupil-linked arousal and beta-range (15-30 Hz) oscillations. The brain state in turn modulated specific stimulus-evoked surprise responses following the confidence-weighting principle. Our results thus indicate that there exist, in the human brain, signals reflecting surprise that are dampened by confidence in a way that is appropriate for learning according to Bayesian inference. They also suggest a mechanism for confidence-weighted learning: Confidence about predictions would modulate intrinsic properties of the brain state to amplify or dampen surprise responses evoked by discrepant observations.
Anna M. Monk; Gareth R. Barnes; Eleanor A. Maguire
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 592175, 2020.
Previous studies have reported that some objects evoke a sense of local three-dimensional space (space-defining; SD), while others do not (space-ambiguous; SA), despite being imagined or viewed in isolation devoid of a background context. Moreover, people show a strong preference for SD objects when given a choice of objects with which to mentally construct scene imagery. When deconstructing scenes, people retain significantly more SD objects than SA objects. It, therefore, seems that SD objects might enjoy a privileged role in scene construction. In the current study, we leveraged the high temporal resolution of magnetoencephalography (MEG) to compare the neural responses to SD and SA objects while they were being used to build imagined scene representations, as this has not been examined before using neuroimaging. On each trial, participants gradually built a scene image from three successive auditorily-presented object descriptions and an imagined 3D space. We then examined the neural dynamics associated with the points during scene construction when either SD or SA objects were being imagined. We found that SD objects elicited theta changes relative to SA objects in two brain regions, the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the right superior temporal gyrus (STG). Furthermore, using dynamic causal modeling, we observed that the vmPFC drove STG activity. These findings may indicate that SD objects serve to activate schematic and conceptual knowledge in vmPFC and STG upon which scene representations are then built.
Eelke Spaak; Floris P. Lange
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 191–202, 2020.
Humans can rapidly and seemingly implicitly learn to predict typical locations of relevant items when those items are encountered in familiar spatial contexts. Two important questions remain, however, concerning this type of learning: (1) which neural structures and mechanisms are involved in acquiring and exploiting such contextual knowledge? (2) Is this type of learning truly implicit and unconscious? We now answer both these questions after closely examining behavior and recording neural activity using MEG while observers (male and female) were acquiring and exploiting statistical regularities. Computational modeling of behavioral data suggested that, after repeated exposures to a spatial context, participants' behavior was marked by an abrupt switch to an exploitation strategy of the learnt regularities. MEG recordings showed that hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) were involved in the task and furthermore revealed a striking dissociation: only the initial learning phase was associated with hippocampal theta band activity, while the subsequent exploitation phase showed a shift in theta band activity to the PFC. Intriguingly, the behavioral benefit of repeated exposures to certain scenes was inversely related to explicit awareness of such repeats, demonstrating the implicit nature of the expectations acquired. Together, these findings demonstrate that (1a) hippocampus and PFC play complementary roles in the implicit, unconscious learning and exploitation of spatial statistical regularities; (1b) these mechanisms are implemented in the theta frequency band; and (2) contextual knowledge can indeed be acquired unconsciously, and awareness of such knowledge can even interfere with the exploitation thereof.
Davide Tabarelli; Christian Keitel; Joachim Gross; Daniel Baldauf
In: NeuroImage, vol. 208, pp. 116444, 2020.
Successfully interpreting and navigating our natural visual environment requires us to track its dynamics constantly. Additionally, we focus our attention on behaviorally relevant stimuli to enhance their neural processing. Little is known, however, about how sustained attention affects the ongoing tracking of stimuli with rich natural temporal dynamics. Here, we used MRI-informed source reconstructions of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data to map to what extent various cortical areas track concurrent continuous quasi-rhythmic visual stimulation. Further, we tested how top-down visuo-spatial attention influences this tracking process. Our bilaterally presented quasi-rhythmic stimuli covered a dynamic range of 4–20 Hz, subdivided into three distinct bands. As an experimental control, we also included strictly rhythmic stimulation (10 vs 12 Hz). Using a spectral measure of brain-stimulus coupling, we were able to track the neural processing of left vs. right stimuli independently, even while fluctuating within the same frequency range. The fidelity of neural tracking depended on the stimulation frequencies, decreasing for higher frequency bands. Both attended and non-attended stimuli were tracked beyond early visual cortices, in ventral and dorsal streams depending on the stimulus frequency. In general, tracking improved with the deployment of visuo-spatial attention to the stimulus location. Our results provide new insights into how human visual cortices process concurrent dynamic stimuli and provide a potential mechanism – namely increasing the temporal precision of tracking – for boosting the neural representation of attended input.
L. Tankelevitch; E. Spaak; M. F. S. Rushworth; M. G. Stokes
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 26, pp. 5033–5050, 2020.
Studies of selective attention typically consider the role of task goals or physical salience, but recent work has shown that attention can also be captured by previously reward-associated stimuli, even when these are no longer relevant (i.e., value-driven attentional capture; VDAC). We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate how previously reward-associated stimuli are processed, the time-course of reward history effects, and how this relates to the behavioural effects of VDAC. Male and female human participants first completed a reward learning task to establish stimulus-reward associations. Next, we measured attentional capture in a separate task by presenting these stimuli in the absence of reward contingency, and probing their effects on the processing of separate target stimuli presented at different time lags. Using time-resolved multivariate pattern analysis, we found that learned value modulated the spatial selection of previously rewarded stimuli in occipital, inferior temporal, and parietal cortex from $sim$260ms after stimulus onset. This value modulation was related to the strength of participants' behavioural VDAC effect and persisted into subsequent target processing. Furthermore, we found a spatially invariant value signal from $sim$340ms. Importantly, learned value did not influence the neural discriminability of the previously rewarded stimuli in visual cortical areas. Our results suggest that VDAC is underpinned by learned value signals which modulate spatial selection throughout posterior visual and parietal cortex. We further suggest that VDAC can occur in the absence of changes in early visual cortical processing. Significance statement Attention is our ability to focus on relevant information at the expense of irrelevant information. It can be affected by previously learned but currently irrelevant stimulus-reward associations, a phenomenon termed “value-driven attentional capture” (VDAC). The neural mechanisms underlying VDAC remain unclear. It has been speculated that reward learning induces visual cortical plasticity which modulates early visual processing to capture attention. Although we find that learned value modulates spatial attention in sensory brain areas, an effect which correlates with VDAC, we find no relevant signatures of visual cortical plasticity.
Niklas Wilming; Peter R. Murphy; Florent Meyniel; Tobias H. Donner
In: Nature Communications, vol. 11, pp. 5109, 2020.
Perceptual decisions entail the accumulation of sensory evidence for a particular choice towards an action plan. An influential framework holds that sensory cortical areas encode the instantaneous sensory evidence and downstream, action-related regions accumulate this evidence. The large-scale distribution of this computation across the cerebral cortex has remained largely elusive. Here, we develop a regionally-specific magnetoencephalography decoding approach to exhaustively map the dynamics of stimulus- and choice-specific signals across the human cortical surface during a visual decision. Comparison with the evidence accumulation dynamics inferred from behavior disentangles stimulus-dependent and endogenous components of choice-predictive activity across the visual cortical hierarchy. We find such an endogenous component in early visual cortex (including V1), which is expressed in a low (<20 Hz) frequency band and tracks, with delay, the build-up of choice-predictive activity in (pre-) motor regions. Our results are consistent with choice- and frequency-specific cortical feedback signaling during decision formation.
G. Elliott Wimmer; Yunzhe Liu; Neža Vehar; Timothy E. J. Behrens; Raymond J. Dolan
In: Nature Neuroscience, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 1025–1033, 2020.
Retrieval of everyday experiences is fundamental for informing our future decisions. The fine-grained neurophysiological mechanisms that support such memory retrieval are largely unknown. We studied participants who first experienced, without repetition, unique multicomponent 40–80-s episodes. One day later, they engaged in cued retrieval of these episodes while undergoing magnetoencephalography. By decoding individual episode elements, we found that trial-by-trial successful retrieval was supported by the sequential replay of episode elements, with a temporal compression factor of >60. The direction of replay supporting retrieval, either backward or forward, depended on whether the task goal was to retrieve elements of an episode that followed or preceded, respectively, a retrieval cue. This sequential replay was weaker in very-high-performing participants, in whom instead we found evidence for simultaneous clustered reactivation. Our results demonstrate that memory-mediated decisions are supported by a rapid replay mechanism that can flexibly shift in direction in response to task goals.
Ioannis Agtzidis; Inga Meyhöfer; Michael Dorr; Rebekka Lencer
In: NeuroImage, vol. 216, pp. 116491, 2020.
Most fMRI studies investigating smooth pursuit (SP) related brain activity have used simple synthetic stimuli such as a sinusoidally moving dot. However, real-life situations are much more complex and SP does not occur in isolation but within sequences of saccades and fixations. This raises the question whether the same brain networks for SP that have been identified under laboratory conditions are activated when following moving objects in a movie. Here, we used the publicly available studyforrest data set that provides eye movement recordings along with 3 T fMRI recordings from 15 subjects while watching the Hollywood movie “Forrest Gump”. All three major eye movement events, namely fixations, saccades, and smooth pursuit, were detected with a state-of-the-art algorithm. In our analysis, smooth pursuit (SP) was the eye movement of interest, while saccades were acting as the steady state of viewing behaviour due to their lower variability. For the fMRI analysis we used an event-related design modelling saccades and SP as regressors initially. Because of the interdependency of SP and content motion, we then added a new low-level content motion regressor to separate brain activations from these two sources. We identified higher BOLD-responses during SP than saccades bilaterally in MT+/V5, in middle cingulate extending to precuneus, and in the right temporoparietal junction. When the motion regressor was added, SP showed higher BOLD-response relative to saccades bilaterally in the cortex lining the superior temporal sulcus, precuneus, and supplementary eye field, presumably due to a confounding effect of background motion. Only parts of V2 showed higher activation during saccades in comparison to SP. Taken together, our approach should be regarded as proof of principle for deciphering brain activity related to SP, which is one of the most prominent eye movements besides saccades, in complex dynamic naturalistic situations.
Sara Ajina; Miriam Pollard; Holly Bridge
In: Frontiers in Neurology, vol. 11, pp. 769, 2020.
Humans can respond rapidly to viewed expressions of fear, even in the absence of conscious awareness. This is demonstrated using visual masking paradigms in healthy individuals and in patients with cortical blindness due to damage to the primary visual cortex (V1) - so called affective blindsight. Humans have also been shown to implicitly process facial expressions representing important social dimensions. Two major axes, dominance and trustworthiness, are proposed to characterize the social dimensions of face evaluation. The processing of both types of implicit stimuli is believed to occur via similar subcortical pathways involving the amygdala. However, we do not know whether unconscious processing of more subtle expressions of facial traits can occur in blindsight, and if so, how. To test this, we studied 13 patients with unilateral V1 damage and visual field loss. We assessed their ability to detect and discriminate faces that had been manipulated along two orthogonal axes of trustworthiness and dominance to generate five trait levels inside the blind visual field: dominant, submissive, trustworthy, untrustworthy, and neutral. We compared neural activity and functional connectivity in patients classified as blindsight positive or negative for these stimuli. We found that dominant faces were most likely to be detected above chance, with individuals demonstrating unique interactions between performance and face trait. Only patients with blindsight (n = 8) showed significant preference in the superior colliculus and amygdala for face traits in the blind visual field, and a critical functional connection between the amygdala and superior colliculus in the damaged hemisphere. We also found a significant correlation between behavioral performance and fMRI activity in the amygdala and lateral geniculate nucleus across all participants. Our findings confirm that affective blindsight involving the superior colliculus and amygdala extends to the processing of socially salient but emotionally neutral facial expressions when V1 is damaged. This pathway is distinct from that which supports motion blindsight, as both types of blindsight can exist in the absence of the other with corresponding patterns of residual connectivity.
Noor Z. Al Dahhan; John R. Kirby; Ying Chen; Donald C. Brien; Douglas P. Munoz
In: European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 51, no. 11, pp. 2277–2298, 2020.
We combined fMRI with eye tracking and speech recording to examine the neural and cognitive mechanisms that underlie reading. To simplify the study of the complex processes involved during reading, we used naming speed (NS) tasks (also known as rapid automatized naming or RAN) as a focus for this study, in which average reading right-handed adults named sets of stimuli (letters or objects) as quickly and accurately as possible. Due to the possibility of spoken output during fMRI studies creating motion artifacts, we employed both an overt session and a covert session. When comparing the two sessions, there were no significant differences in behavioral performance, sensorimotor activation (except for regions involved in the motor aspects of speech production) or activation in regions within the left-hemisphere-dominant neural reading network. This established that differences found between the tasks within the reading network were not attributed to speech production motion artifacts or sensorimotor processes. Both behavioral and neuroimaging measures showed that letter naming was a more automatic and efficient task than object naming. Furthermore, specific manipulations to the NS tasks to make the stimuli more visually and/or phonologically similar differentially activated the reading network in the left hemisphere associated with phonological, orthographic and orthographic-to-phonological processing, but not articulatory/motor processing related to speech production. These findings further our understanding of the underlying neural processes that support reading by examining how activation within the reading network differs with both task performance and task characteristics.
Mareike Bacha-Trams; Elisa Ryyppo; Enrico Glerean; Mikko Sams; Iiro P. Jaaskelainen
In: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 175–191, 2020.
Putting oneself into the shoes of others is an important aspect of social cognition.We measured brain hemodynamic activity and eye-gaze patterns while participants were viewing a shortened version of the movie 'My Sister's Keeper' from two perspectives: That of a potential organ donor, who violates moral norms by refusing to donate her kidney, and that of a potential organ recipient, who suffers in pain. Inter-subject correlation (ISC) of brain activity was significantly higher during the potential organ donor's perspective in dorsolateral and inferior prefrontal, lateral and inferior occipital, and inferior-anterior temporal areas. In the reverse contrast, stronger ISC was observed in superior temporal, posterior frontal and anterior parietal areas. Eye-gaze analysis showed higher proportion of fixations on the potential organ recipient during both perspectives. Taken together, these results suggest that during social perspective-taking different brain areas can be flexibly recruited depending on the nature of the perspective that is taken.
Valerie M. Beck; Timothy J. Vickery
In: Cortex, vol. 122, pp. 159–169, 2020.
Evidence from attentional and oculomotor capture, contingent capture, and other paradigms suggests that mechanisms supporting human visual working memory (VWM) and visual attention are intertwined. Features held in VWM bias guidance toward matching items even when those features are task irrelevant. However, the neural basis of this interaction is underspecified. Prior examinations using fMRI have primarily relied on coarse comparisons across experimental conditions that produce varying amounts of capture. To examine the neural dynamics of attentional capture on a trial-by-trial basis, we applied an oculomotor paradigm that produced discrete measures of capture. On each trial, subjects were shown a memory item, followed by a blank retention interval, then a saccade target that appeared to the left or right. On some trials, an irrelevant distractor appeared above or below fixation. Once the saccade target was fixated, subjects completed a forced-choice memory test. Critically, either the target or distractor could match the feature held in VWM. Although task irrelevant, this manipulation produced differences in behavior: participants were more likely to saccade first to an irrelevant VWM-matching distractor compared with a non-matching distractor – providing a discrete measure of capture. We replicated this finding while recording eye movements and scanning participants' brains using fMRI. To examine the neural basis of oculomotor capture, we separately modeled the retention interval for capture and non-capture trials within the distractor-match condition. We found that frontal activity, including anterior cingulate cortex and superior frontal gyrus regions, differentially predicted subsequent oculomotor capture by a memory-matching distractor. Other regions previously implicated as involved in attentional capture by VWM-matching items showed no differential activity across capture and non-capture trials, even at a liberal threshold. Our findings demonstrate the power of trial-by-trial analyses of oculomotor capture as a means to examine the underlying relationship between VWM and attentional guidance systems.
Richard F. Betzel; Lisa Byrge; Farnaz Zamani Esfahlani; Daniel P. Kennedy
In: NeuroImage, vol. 213, pp. 116687, 2020.
Brain networks are flexible and reconfigure over time to support ongoing cognitive processes. However, tracking statistically meaningful reconfigurations across time has proven difficult. This has to do largely with issues related to sampling variability, making instantaneous estimation of network organization difficult, along with increased reliance on task-free (cognitively unconstrained) experimental paradigms, limiting the ability to interpret the origin of changes in network structure over time. Here, we address these challenges using time-varying network analysis in conjunction with a naturalistic viewing paradigm. Specifically, we developed a measure of inter-subject network similarity and used this measure as a coincidence filter to identify synchronous fluctuations in network organization across individuals. Applied to movie-watching data, we found that periods of high inter-subject similarity coincided with reductions in network modularity and increased connectivity between cognitive systems. In contrast, low inter-subject similarity was associated with increased system segregation and more rest-like architectures. We then used a data-driven approach to uncover clusters of functional connections that follow similar trajectories over time and are more strongly correlated during movie-watching than at rest. Finally, we show that synchronous fluctuations in network architecture over time can be linked to a subset of features in the movie. Our findings link dynamic fluctuations in network integration and segregation to patterns of inter-subject similarity, and suggest that moment-to-moment fluctuations in functional connectivity reflect shared cognitive processing across individuals.
Rodrigo M. Braga; Lauren M. DiNicola; Hannah C. Becker; Randy L. Buckner
In: Journal of neurophysiology, vol. 124, no. 5, pp. 1415–1448, 2020.
Using procedures optimized to explore network organization within the individual, the topography of a candidate language network was characterized and situated within the broader context of adjacent networks. The candidate network was first identified using functional connectivity and replicated across individuals, acquisition tasks, and analytical methods. In addition to classical language regions near the perisylvian cortex and temporal pole, regions were also observed in dorsal posterior cingulate, midcingulate, and anterior superior frontal and inferior temporal cortex. The candidate network was selectively activated when processing meaningful (as contrasted with nonword) sentences, whereas spatially adjacent networks showed minimal or even decreased activity. Results were replicated and triplicated across two prospectively acquired cohorts. Examined in relation to adjacent networks, the topography of the language network was found to parallel the motif of other association networks, including the transmodal association networks linked to theory of mind and episodic remembering (often collectively called the default network). The several networks contained juxtaposed regions in multiple association zones. Outside of these juxtaposed higher-order networks, we further noted a distinct frontotemporal network situated between language regions and a frontal orofacial motor region and a temporal auditory region. A possibility is that these functionally related sensorimotor regions might anchor specialization of neighboring association regions that develop into a language network. What is most striking is that the canonical language network appears to be just one of multiple similarly organized, differentially specialized distributed networks that populate the evolutionarily expanded zones of human association cortex.
Johannes Brand; Marco Piccirelli; Marie Claude Hepp-Reymond; Kynan Eng; Lars Michels
Brain activation during visually guided finger movements Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 309, 2020.
Computer interaction via visually guided hand movements often employs either abstract cursor-based feedback or virtual hand (VH) representations of varying degrees of realism. The effect of changing this visual feedback in virtual reality settings is currently unknown. In this study, 19 healthy right-handed adults performed index finger movements (“action”) and observed movements (“observation”) with four different types of visual feedback: a simple circular cursor (CU), a point light (PL) pattern indicating finger joint positions, a shadow cartoon hand (SH) and a realistic VH. Finger movements were recorded using a data glove, and eye-tracking was recorded optically. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Both action and observation conditions showed stronger fMRI signal responses in the occipitotemporal cortex compared to baseline. The action conditions additionally elicited elevated bilateral activations in motor, somatosensory, parietal, and cerebellar regions. For both conditions, feedback of a hand with a moving finger (SH, VH) led to higher activations than CU or PL feedback, specifically in early visual regions and the occipitotemporal cortex. Our results show the stronger recruitment of a network of cortical regions during visually guided finger movements with human hand feedback when compared to a visually incomplete hand and abstract feedback. This information could have implications for the design of visually guided tasks involving human body parts in both research and application or training-related paradigms.
Batel Buaron; Daniel Reznik; Roee Gilron; Roy Mukamel
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 30, no. 12, pp. 6097–6107, 2020.
Evoked neural activity in sensory regions and perception of sensory stimuli are modulated when the stimuli are the consequence of voluntary movement, as opposed to an external source. It has been suggested that such modulations are due to motor commands that are sent to relevant sensory regions during voluntary movement. However, given the anatomical-functional laterality bias of the motor system, it is plausible that the pattern of such behavioral and neural modulations will also exhibit a similar bias, depending on the effector triggering the stimulus (e.g., right/left hand). Here, we examined this issue in the visual domain using behavioral and neural measures (fMRI). Healthy participants judged the relative brightness of identical visual stimuli that were either self-triggered (using right/left hand button presses), or triggered by the computer. Stimuli were presented either in the right or left visual field. Despite identical physical properties of the visual consequences, we found stronger perceptual modulations when the triggering hand was ipsi- (rather than contra-) lateral to the stimulated visual field. Additionally, fMRI responses in visual cortices differentiated between stimuli triggered by right/left hand. Our findings support a model in which voluntary actions induce sensory modulations that follow the anatomical-functional bias of the motor system.
Nicoletta Cera; João Castelhano; Cátia Oliveira; Joana Carvalho; Ana Luísa Quinta Gomes; Maria Manuela Peixoto; Raquel Pereira; Erick Janssen; Miguel Castelo-Branco; Pedro Nobre
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 10, pp. 18463, 2020.
Several studies highlighted the role of insula on several functions and in sexual behavior. This exploratory study examines the relationships among genital responses, brain responses, and eye movements, to disentangle the role played by the anterior and posterior insula during different stages of male sexual response and during visual attention to sexual stimuli. In 19 healthy men, fMRI, eye movement, and penile tumescence data were collected during a visual sexual stimulation task. After a whole-brain analysis comparing neutral and sexual clips and confirming a role for the bilateral insulae, we selected two bilateral seed regions in anterior and posterior insula for functional connectivity analysis. Single-ROI-GLMs were run for the FC target regions. Single-ROI-GLMs were performed based on areas to which participants fixate: “Faces”, “Genitals,” and “Background” with the contrast “Genitals > Faces”. Single-ROI-GLMs with baseline, onset, and sustained PT response for the sexual clips were performed. We found stronger effects for the posterior than the anterior insula. In the target regions of the posterior insula, we found three different pathways: the first involved in visual attention, onset of erection, and sustained erection; the second involved only in the onset of erection, and the third limited to sustained erection.
Rutvik H. Desai; Wonil Choi; John M. Henderson
Word frequency effects in naturalistic reading Journal Article
In: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 1–12, 2020.
Word frequency is a central psycholinguistic variable that accounts for substantial variance in language processing. A number of neuroimaging studies have examined frequency at a single word level, typically demonstrating a strong negative, and sometimes positive correlation between frequency and hemodynamic response. Here, 40 subjects read passages of text in an MRI scanner while their eye movements were recorded. We used fixation-related analysis to identify neural activity tied to the frequency of each fixated word. We found that negative correlations with frequency were reduced, while strong positive correlations were found in the temporal and parietal areas associated with semantics. We propose that the processing cost of low frequency words is reduced due to contextual cues. Meanings of high frequency words are more readily accessed and integrated with context resulting in enhanced processing in the semantic system. The results demonstrate similarities and differences between single word and naturalistic text processing.
Lauren M. DiNicola; Rodrigo M. Braga; Randy L. Buckner
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 123, no. 3, pp. 1144–1179, 2020.
Association cortex is organized into large-scale distributed networks. One such network, the default network (DN), is linked to diverse forms of internal mentation, opening debate about whether shared or distinct anatomy supports multiple forms of cognition. Using within-individual analysis procedures that preserve idiosyncratic anatomical details, we probed whether multiple tasks from two domains, episodic projection and theory of mind (ToM), rely on the same or distinct networks. In an initial experiment (6 subjects, each scanned 4 times), we found evidence that episodic projection and ToM tasks activate separate regions distributed throughout the cortex, with adjacent regions in parietal, temporal, prefrontal, and midline zones. These distinctions were predicted by the hypothesis that the DN comprises two parallel, interdigitated networks. One network, linked to parahippocampal cortex (PHC), is preferentially recruited during episodic projection, including both remembering and imagining the future. A second juxtaposed network, which includes the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), is differentially engaged during multiple forms of ToM. In two prospectively acquired independent experiments, we replicated and triplicated the dissociation (each with 6 subjects scanned 4 times). Furthermore, the dissociation was found in all zones when analyzed independently, including robustly in midline regions previously described as hubs. The TPJ-linked network is interwoven with the PHC-linked network across the cortex, making clear why it is difficult to fully resolve the two networks in group-averaged or lower-resolution data. These results refine our understanding of the functional-anatomical organization of association cortex and raise fundamental questions about how specialization might arise in parallel, juxtaposed association networks.
Florin Dolcos; Yuta Katsumi; Chen Shen; Paul C. Bogdan; Suhnyoung Jun; Ryan Larsen; Wendy Heller; Kelly Freeman Bost; Sanda Dolcos
In: Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 1011–1026, 2020.
Emotional well-being depends on the ability to adaptively cope with various emotional challenges. Most studies have investigated the neural mechanisms of emotion regulation strategies deployed relatively later in the timing of processing that leads to full emotional experiences. However, less is known about strategies that are engaged in earlier stages of emotion processing, such as those involving attentional deployment. We investigated the neural mechanisms associated with self-guided Focused Attention (FA) in mitigating subjective negative emotional experiences. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were recorded while participants viewed a series of composite negative and neutral images with distinguishable foreground (FG) and background (BG) areas. Participants were instructed to focus either on the FG or BG components of the images, and then rated their emotional experiences. Behavioral results showed that FA was successful in decreasing emotional ratings for negative images viewed in BG Focus condition. At the neural level, the BG Focus was associated with increased activity in regions typically implicated in top-down executive control (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and lateral parietal cortex) and decreased activity in regions linked to affective processing (amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex). Dissociable brain activity linked to FA also was identified in visual cortices, including between the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri, showing increased versus decreased activity, respectively, during the BG Focus. These findings complement the evidence from prior FA studies with recollected emotional memories as internal stimuli and further demonstrate the effectiveness of self-guided FA in mitigating negative emotional experiences associated with processing of external unpleasant stimuli.
Laura Dugué; Elisha Merriam; David Heeger; Marisa Carrasco
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 10, pp. 21274, 2020.
How do endogenous (voluntary) and exogenous (involuntary) attention modulate activity in visual cortex? Using ROI-based fMRI analysis, we measured fMRI activity for valid and invalid trials (target at cued/un-cued location, respectively), pre- or post-cueing endogenous or exogenous attention, while participants performed the same orientation discrimination task. We found stronger modulation in contralateral than ipsilateral visual regions, and higher activity in valid- than invalid-trials. For endogenous attention, modulation of stimulus-evoked activity due to a pre-cue increased along the visual hierarchy, but was constant due to a post-cue. For exogenous attention, modulation of stimulus-evoked activity due to a pre-cue was constant along the visual hierarchy, but was not modulated due to a post-cue. These findings reveal that endogenous and exogenous attention distinctly modulate activity in visuo-occipital areas during orienting and reorienting; endogenous attention facilitates both the encoding and the readout of visual information whereas exogenous attention only facilitates the encoding of information.
Benedetta Franceschiello; Lorenzo Di Sopra; Astrid Minier; Silvio Ionta; David Zeugin; Michael P Notter; Jessica A. M. Bastiaansen; João Jorge; Jérôme Yerly; Matthias Stuber; Micah M Murray
In: Progress in Neurobiology, vol. 194, pp. 101885, 2020.
Eye motion is a major confound for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in neuroscience or ophthalmology. Currently, solutions toward eye stabilisation include participants fixating or administration of paralytics/anaesthetics. We developed a novel MRI protocol for acquiring 3-dimensional images while the eye freely moves. Eye motion serves as the basis for image reconstruction, rather than an impediment. We fully reconstruct videos of the moving eye and head. We quantitatively validate data quality with millimetre resolution in two ways for individual participants. First, eye position based on reconstructed images correlated with simultaneous eye-tracking. Second, the reconstructed images preserve anatomical properties; the eye's axial length measured from MRI images matched that obtained with ocular biometry. The technique operates on a standard clinical setup, without necessitating specialized hardware, facilitating wide deployment. In clinical practice, we anticipate that this may help reduce burdens on both patients and infrastructure, by integrating multiple varieties of assessments into a single comprehensive session. More generally, our protocol is a harbinger for removing the necessity of fixation, thereby opening new opportunities for ethologically-valid, naturalistic paradigms, the inclusion of populations typically unable to stably fixate, and increased translational research such as in awake animals whose eye movements constitute an accessible behavioural readout.
Matthias Fritsche; Samuel J. D. Lawrence; Floris P. Lange
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 224–233, 2020.
The visual system adapts to its recent history. A phenomenon related to this is repetition suppression (RS), a reduction in neural responses to repeated compared with nonrepeated visual input. An intriguing hypothesis is that the timescale over which RS occurs across the visual hierarchy is tuned to the temporal statistics of visual input features, which change rapidly in low-level areas but are more stable in higher level areas. Here, we tested this hypothesis by studying the influence of the temporal lag between successive visual stimuli on RS throughout the visual system using functional (f)MRI. Twelve human volunteers engaged in four fMRI sessions in which we characterized the blood oxygen level-dependent response to pairs of repeated and nonrepeated natural images with interstimulus intervals (ISI) ranging from 50 to 1,000 ms to quantify the temporal tuning of RS along the posterior-anterior axis of the visual system. As expected, RS was maximal for short ISIs and decayed with increasing ISI. Crucially, however, and against our hypothesis, RS decayed at a similar rate in early and late visual areas. This finding challenges the prevailing view that the timescale of RS increases along the posterior-anterior axis of the visual system and suggests that RS is not tuned to temporal input regularities.
Mengyuan Gong; Taosheng Liu
In: Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 11, no. 1-2, pp. 47–59, 2020.
Previous studies suggest that human frontoparietal network represents feature-based attentional priority, yet the precise nature of the priority signals remains unclear. Here, we examined whether priority signals vary continuously or discretely as a function of feature similarity. In an fMRI experiment, we presented two superimposed dot fields moving along two linear directions (leftward and rightward) while varying the angular separation between the two directions. Subjects were cued to attend to one of the two dot fields and respond to a possible speed-up in the cued direction. We used multivariate analysis to evaluate how priority representation of the attended direction changes with feature similarity. We found that in early visual areas as well as posterior intraparietal sulcus and inferior frontal junction, the patterns of neural activity became more different as the feature similarity decreased, indicating a continuous representation of the attended feature. In contrast, patterns of neural activity in anterior intraparietal sulcus and frontal eye field remained invariant to changes in feature similarity, indicating a discrete representation of the attended feature. Such distinct neural coding of attentional priority across the frontoparietal network may make complementary contributions to enable flexible attentional control.
Andrea Grant; Gregory J. Metzger; Pierre François Van de Moortele; Gregor Adriany; Cheryl Olman; Lin Zhang; Joseph Koopermeiners; Yiğitcan Eryaman; Margaret Koeritzer; Meredith E. Adams; Thomas R. Henry; Kamil Uğurbil
In: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, vol. 73, pp. 163–176, 2020.
Purpose: To perform a pilot study to quantitatively assess cognitive, vestibular, and physiological function during and after exposure to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system with a static field strength of 10.5 Tesla at multiple time scales. Methods: A total of 29 subjects were exposed to a 10.5 T MRI field and underwent vestibular, cognitive, and physiological testing before, during, and after exposure; for 26 subjects, testing and exposure were repeated within 2–4 weeks of the first visit. Subjects also reported sensory perceptions after each exposure. Comparisons were made between short and long term time points in the study with respect to the parameters measured in the study; short term comparison included pre-vs-isocenter and pre-vs-post (1–24 h), while long term compared pre-exposures 2–4 weeks apart. Results: Of the 79 comparisons, 73 parameters were unchanged or had small improvements after magnet exposure. The exceptions to this included lower scores on short term (i.e. same day) executive function testing, greater isocenter spontaneous eye movement during visit 1 (relative to pre-exposure), increased number of abnormalities on videonystagmography visit 2 versus visit 1 and a mix of small increases (short term visit 2) and decreases (short term visit 1) in blood pressure. In addition, more subjects reported metallic taste at 10.5 T in comparison to similar data obtained in previous studies at 7 T and 9.4 T. Conclusion: Initial results of 10.5 T static field exposure indicate that 1) cognitive performance is not compromised at isocenter, 2) subjects experience increased eye movement at isocenter, and 3) subjects experience small changes in vital signs but no field-induced increase in blood pressure. While small but significant differences were found in some comparisons, none were identified as compromising subject safety. A modified testing protocol informed by these results was devised with the goal of permitting increased enrollment while providing continued monitoring to evaluate field effects.
Joseph C. Griffis; Nicholas V. Metcalf; Maurizio Corbetta; Gordon L. Shulman
In: NeuroImage, vol. 210, pp. 116589, 2020.
Focal brain lesions disrupt resting-state functional connectivity, but the underlying structural mechanisms are unclear. Here, we examined the direct and indirect effects of structural disconnections on resting-state functional connectivity in a large sample of sub-acute stroke patients with heterogeneous brain lesions. We estimated the impact of each patient's lesion on the structural connectome by embedding the lesion in a diffusion MRI streamline tractography atlas constructed using data from healthy individuals. We defined direct disconnections as the loss of direct structural connections between two regions, and indirect disconnections as increases in the shortest structural path length between two regions that lack direct structural connections. We then tested the hypothesis that functional connectivity disruptions would be more severe for disconnected regions than for regions with spared connections. On average, nearly 20% of all region pairs were estimated to be either directly or indirectly disconnected by the lesions in our sample, and extensive disconnections were associated primarily with damage to deep white matter locations. Importantly, both directly and indirectly disconnected region pairs showed more severe functional connectivity disruptions than region pairs with spared direct and indirect connections, respectively, although functional connectivity disruptions tended to be most severe between region pairs that sustained direct structural disconnections. Together, these results emphasize the widespread impacts of focal brain lesions on the structural connectome and show that these impacts are reflected by disruptions of the functional connectome. Further, they indicate that in addition to direct structural disconnections, lesion-induced increases in the structural shortest path lengths between indirectly structurally connected region pairs provide information about the remote functional disruptions caused by focal brain lesions.
Marcus Grueschow; Birgit Kleim; Christian C. Ruff
Role of the locus coeruleus arousal system in cognitive control Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 32, pp. 1–11, 2020.
Cognitive control lies at the core of human adaptive behaviour. Humans vary substantially in their ability to execute cognitive control with respect to optimally facing environmental challenges, although the neural origins of this heterogeneity are currently not well understood. Recent theoretical frameworks implicate the locus coeruleus noradrenergic arousal system (LC-NE) in that process. Invasive neurophysiological work in rodents has shown that the LC-NE is an important homeostatic control centre of the body. LC-NE innervates the entire neocortex and has particularly strong connections with the cingulate gyrus. In the present study, using a response conflict task, functional magnetic resonance imaging and concurrent pupil dilation measures (a proxy for LC-NE firing), we provide empirical evidence for a decisive role of the LC-NE in cognitive control in humans. We show that the level of individual behavioural adjustment in cognitive control relates to the level of functional coupling between LC-NE and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, as well as dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Moreover, we show that the pupil is substantially more dilated during conflict trials requiring behavioural adjustment than during no conflict trials. In addition, we explore a potential relationship between pupil dilation and neural activity during choice conflict adjustments. Our data provide novel insight into arousal-related influences on cognitive control and suggest pupil dilation as a potential external marker for endogenous neural processes involved in optimising behavioural control. Our results may also be clinically relevant for a variety of pathologies where cognitive control is compromised, such as anxiety, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Arvid Guterstam; Branden J. Bio; Andrew I. Wilterson; Michael S. A. Graziano
In: eLife, vol. 10, pp. e63551, 2020.
In a traditional view, in social cognition, attention is equated with gaze and people track attention by tracking other people's gaze. Here we used fMRI to test whether the brain represents attention in a richer manner. People read stories describing an agent (either oneself or someone else) directing attention to an object in one of two ways: either internally directed (endogenous) or externally induced (exogenous). We used multivoxel pattern analysis to examine how brain areas within the theory-of-mind network encoded attention type and agent type. Brain activity patterns in the left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) showed significant decoding of information about endogenous versus exogenous attention. The left TPJ, left superior temporal sulcus (STS), precuneus, and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) significantly decoded agent type (self versus other). These findings show that the brain constructs a rich model of one's own and others' attentional state, possibly aiding theory of mind.
Arvid Guterstam; Andrew I. Wilterson; Davis Wachtell; Michael S. A. Graziano
Other people's gaze encoded as implied motion in the human brain Journal Article
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, no. 23, pp. 13162–13167, 2020.
Keeping track of other people's gaze is an essential task in social cognition and key for successfully reading other people's intentions and beliefs (theory of mind). Recent behavioral evidence suggests that we construct an implicit model of other people's gaze, which may incorporate physically incoherent attributes such as a construct of force-carrying beams that emanate from the eyes. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and multivoxel pattern analysis to test the prediction that the brain encodes gaze as implied motion streaming from an agent toward a gazed-upon object. We found that a classifier, trained to discriminate the direction of visual motion, significantly decoded the gaze direction in static images depicting a sighted face, but not a blindfolded one, from brain activity patterns in the human motion-sensitive middle temporal complex (MT+) and temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). Our results demonstrate a link between the visual motion system and social brain mechanisms, in which the TPJ, a key node in theory of mind, works in concert with MT+ to encode gaze as implied motion. This model may be a fundamental aspect of social cognition that allows us to efficiently connect agents with the objects of their attention. It is as if the brain draws a quick visual sketch with moving arrows to help keep track of who is attending to what. This implicit, fluid-flow model of other people's gaze may help explain culturally universal myths about the mind as an energy-like, flowing essence.
Zvi N. Roth; Minyoung Ryoo; Elisha P. Merriam
Task-related activity in human visual cortex Journal Article
In: PLoS Biology, vol. 18, no. 11, pp. 1–28, 2020.
The brain exhibits widespread endogenous responses in the absence of visual stimuli, even at the earliest stages of visual cortical processing. Such responses have been studied in monkeys using optical imaging with a limited field of view over visual cortex. Here, we used functional MRI (fMRI) in human participants to study the link between arousal and endogenous responses in visual cortex. The response that we observed was tightly entrained to task timing, was spatially extensive, and was independent of visual stimulation. We found that this response follows dynamics similar to that of pupil size and heart rate, suggesting that task-related activity is related to arousal. Finally, we found that higher reward increased response amplitude while decreasing its trial-To-Trial variability (i.e., the noise). Computational simulations suggest that increased temporal precision underlies both of these observations. Our findings are consistent with optical imaging studies in monkeys and support the notion that arousal increases precision of neural activity.
Tom Salomon; Rotem Botvinik-Nezer; Shiran Oren; Tom Schonberg
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 1043–1060, 2020.
Developing effective preference modification paradigms is crucial to improve the quality of life in a wide range of behaviors. The cue-approach training (CAT) paradigm has been introduced as an effective tool to modify preferences lasting months, without external reinforcements, using the mere association of images with a cue and a speeded button response. In the current work for the first time, we used fMRI with faces as stimuli in the CAT paradigm, focusing on face-selective brain regions. We found a behavioral change effect of CAT with faces immediately and 1-month after training, however face-selective regions were not indicative of behavioral change and thus preference change is less likely to rely on face processing brain regions. Nevertheless, we found that during training, fMRI activations in the ventral striatum were correlated with individual preference change. We also found a correlation between preference change and activations in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex during the binary choice phase. Functional connectivity among striatum, prefrontal regions, and high-level visual regions was also related to individual preference change. Our work sheds new light on the involvement of neural mechanisms in the process of valuation. This could lead to development of novel real-world interventions.
Alexandre Sayal; Teresa Sousa; João V. Duarte; Gabriel N. Costa; Ricardo Martins; Miguel Castelo-Branco
In: NeuroImage, vol. 221, pp. 117153, 2020.
Hysteresis is a well-known phenomenon in physics that relates changes in a system with its prior history. It is also part of human visual experience (perceptual hysteresis), and two different neural mechanisms might explain it: persistence (a cause of positive hysteresis), which forces to keep a current percept for longer, and adaptation (a cause of negative hysteresis), which in turn favors the switch to a competing percept early on. In this study, we explore the neural correlates underlying these mechanisms and the hypothesis of their competitive balance, by combining behavioral assessment with fMRI. We used machine learning on the behavioral data to distinguish between positive and negative hysteresis, and discovered a neural correlate of persistence at a core region of the ventral attention network, the anterior insula. Our results add to the understanding of perceptual multistability and reveal a possible mechanistic explanation for the regulation of different forms of perceptual hysteresis.
Daniel J. Schad; Michael A. Rapp; Maria Garbusow; Stephan Nebe; Miriam Sebold; Elisabeth Obst; Christian Sommer; Lorenz Deserno; Milena Rabovsky; Eva Friedel; Nina Romanczuk-Seiferth; Hans Ulrich Wittchen; Ulrich S. Zimmermann; Henrik Walter; Philipp Sterzer; Michael N. Smolka; Florian Schlagenhauf; Andreas Heinz; Peter Dayan; Quentin J. M. M. Huys
In: Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 201–214, 2020.
Individuals differ in how they learn from experience. In Pavlovian conditioning models, where cues predict reinforcer delivery at a different goal location, some animals—called sign-trackers—come to approach the cue, whereas others, called goal-trackers, approach the goal. In sign-trackers, model-free phasic dopaminergic reward-prediction errors underlie learning, which renders stimuli ‘wanted'. Goal-trackers do not rely on dopamine for learning and are thought to use model-based learning. We demonstrate this double dissociation in 129 male humans using eye-tracking, pupillometry and functional magnetic resonance imaging informed by computational models of sign- and goal-tracking. We show that sign-trackers exhibit a neural reward prediction error signal that is not detectable in goal-trackers. Model-free value only guides gaze and pupil dilation in sign-trackers. Goal-trackers instead exhibit a stronger model-based neural state prediction error signal. This model-based construct determines gaze and pupil dilation more in goal-trackers.
Constanze Schmitt; Bianca R Baltaretu; J Douglas Crawford; Frank Bremmer
A causal role of area hMST for self-motion perception in humans Journal Article
In: Cerebral Cortex Communications, pp. 1–14, 2020.
Previous studies in the macaque monkey have provided clear causal evidence for an involvement of the medial-superior-temporal area (MST) in the perception of self-motion. These studies also revealed an overrepresentation of contraversive heading. Human imaging studies have identified a functional equivalent (hMST) of macaque area MST. Yet, causal evidence of hMST in heading perception is lacking. We employed neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to test for such a causal relationship. We expected TMS over hMST to induce increased perceptual variance (i.e., impaired precision), while leaving mean heading perception (accuracy) unaffected. We presented 8 human participants with an optic flow stimulus simulating forward self-motion across a ground plane in one of 3 directions. Participants indicated perceived heading. In 57% of the trials, TMS pulses were applied, temporally centered on self-motion onset. TMS stimulation site was either right-hemisphere hMST, identified by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) localizer, or a control-area, just outside the fMRI localizer activation. As predicted, TMS over area hMST, but not over the control-area, increased response variance of perceived heading as compared with noTMS stimulation trials. As hypothesized, this effect was strongest for contraversive self-motion. These data provide a first causal evidence for a critical role of hMST in visually guided navigation.
Rebekka Schröder; Anna-Maria Kasparbauer; Inga Meyhöfer; Maria Steffens; Peter Trautner; Ulrich Ettinger
Functional connectivity during smooth pursuit eye movements Journal Article
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 124, pp. 1839–1856, 2020.
Smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEM) hold the image of a slowly moving stimulus on the fovea. The neural system underlying SPEM primarily includes visual, parietal and frontal areas. In the present study, we investigated how these areas are functionally coupled and how these couplings are influenced by target motion frequency. To this end, healthy participants (N=57) were instructed to follow a sinusoidal target stimulus moving horizontally at two different frequencies (0.2 Hz, 0.4 Hz). Eye movements and BOLD activity were recorded simultaneously. Functional connectivity of the key areas of the SPEM network was investigated using a Psychophysiological Interaction (PPI) approach. It was analyzed how activity in five eye movement related seed regions (lateral geniculate nucleus, V1, V5, posterior parietal cortex, frontal eye fields) relates to activity in other parts of the brain during SPEM. The behavioral results showed clear deterioration of SPEM performance at higher target frequency. BOLD activity during SPEM vs. fixation occurred in a geniculo-occipito-parieto-frontal network, replicating previous findings. PPI analysis yielded wide-spread, partially overlapping networks. Especially frontal eye fields and posterior parietal cortex showed task-dependent connectivity to large parts of the entire cortex, while other seed regions demonstrated more regionally focused connectivity. Higher target frequency was associated with stronger activations in visual areas but had no effect on functional connectivity. In summary, the results confirm and extend previous knowledge regarding the neural mechanisms underlying SPEM and provide a valuable basis for further investigations such as in patients with SPEM impairments and known alterations in brain connectivity.
Sarah Schuster; Stefan Hawelka; Nicole Alexandra Himmelstoss; Fabio Richlan; Florian Hutzler
In: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 613–624, 2020.
By means of combining eye-tracking and fMRI, the present study aimed to investigate aspects of higher linguistic processing during natural reading which were formerly hard to assess with traditional paradigms. Specifically, we investigated the haemodynamic effects of incremental sentence comprehension–as operationalised by word position–and its relation to context-based word-level effects of lexical predictability. We observed that an increasing amount of words being processed was associated with an increase in activation in the left posterior middle temporal and angular gyri. At the same time, left occipito-temporal regions showed a decrease in activation with increasing word position. Region of interest (ROI) analyses revealed differential effects of word position and predictability within dissociable parts of the semantic network–showing that it is expedient to consider these effects conjointly.
Simon R. Steinkamp; Simone Vossel; Gereon R. Fink; Ralph Weidner
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 41, no. 13, pp. 3765–3780, 2020.
Hemispatial neglect, after unilateral lesions to parietal brain areas, is characterized by an inability to respond to unexpected stimuli in contralesional space. As the visual field's horizontal meridian is most severely affected, the brain networks controlling visuospatial processes might be tuned explicitly to this axis. We investigated such a potential directional tuning in the dorsal and ventral frontoparietal attention networks, with a particular focus on attentional reorientation. We used an orientation-discrimination task where a spatial precue indicated the target position with 80% validity. Healthy participants (n = 29) performed this task in two runs and were required to (re-)orient attention either only along the horizontal or the vertical meridian, while fMRI and behavioral measures were recorded. By using a general linear model for behavioral and fMRI data, dynamic causal modeling for effective connectivity, and other predictive approaches, we found strong statistical evidence for a reorientation effect for horizontal and vertical runs. However, neither neural nor behavioral measures differed between vertical and horizontal reorienting. Moreover, models from one run successfully predicted the cueing condition in the respective other run. Our results suggest that activations in the dorsal and ventral attention networks represent higher-order cognitive processes related to spatial attentional (re-)orientating that are independent of directional tuning and that unilateral attention deficits after brain damage are based on disrupted interactions between higher-level attention networks and sensory areas.
Emily R. Stern; Carina Brown; Molly Ludlow; Rebbia Shahab; Katherine Collins; Alexis Lieval; Russell H. Tobe; Dan V. Iosifescu; Katherine E. Burdick; Lazar Fleysher
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 1611–1625, 2020.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is highly heterogeneous. While obsessions often involve fear of harm, many patients report uncomfortable sensations and/or urges that drive repetitive behaviors in the absence of a specific fear. Prior work suggests that urges in OCD may be similar to everyday “urges-for-action” (UFA) such as the urge to blink, swallow, or scratch, but very little work has investigated the pathophysiology underlying urges in OCD. In the current study, we used an urge-to-blink approach to model sensory-based urges that could be experimentally elicited and compared across patients and controls using the same task stimuli. OCD patients and controls suppressed eye blinking over a period of 60 s, alternating with free blinking blocks, while brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging. OCD patients showed significantly increased activation in several regions during the early phase of eyeblink suppression (first 30 s), including mid-cingulate, insula, striatum, parietal cortex, and occipital cortex, with lingering group differences in parietal and occipital regions during late eyeblink suppression (last 30 s). There were no differences in brain activation during free blinking blocks, and no conditions where OCD patients showed reduced activation compared to controls. In an exploratory analysis of blink counts performed in a subset of subjects, OCD patients were less successful than controls in suppressing blinks. These data indicate that OCD patients exhibit altered brain function and behavior when experiencing and suppressing the urge to blink, raising the possibility that the disorder is associated with a general abnormality in the UFA system that could ultimately be targeted by future treatments.
Susanne Stoll; Nonie J. Finlayson; D. Samuel Schwarzkopf
In: NeuroImage, vol. 220, pp. 116926, 2020.
Our visual system readily groups dynamic fragmented input into global objects. How the brain represents global object perception remains however unclear. To address this question, we recorded brain responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging whilst observers viewed a dynamic bistable stimulus that could either be perceived globally (i.e., as a grouped and coherently moving shape) or locally (i.e., as ungrouped and incoherently moving elements). We further estimated population receptive fields and used these to back-project the brain activity measured during stimulus perception into visual space via a searchlight procedure. Global perception resulted in universal suppression of responses in lower visual cortex accompanied by wide-spread enhancement in higher object-sensitive cortex. However, follow-up experiments indicated that higher object-sensitive cortex is suppressed if global perception lacks shape grouping, and that grouping-related suppression can be diffusely confined to stimulated sites and accompanied by background enhancement once stimulus size is reduced. These results speak to a non-generic involvement of higher object-sensitive cortex in perceptual grouping and point to an enhancement-suppression mechanism mediating the perception of figure and ground.
Tobias Talanow; Anna Maria Kasparbauer; Julia V. Lippold; Bernd Weber; Ulrich Ettinger
In: Brain Imaging and Behavior, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 72–88, 2020.
Although research on goal-directed, proactive inhibitory control (IC) and stimulus-driven, reactive IC is growing, no previous study has compared proactive IC in conditions of uncertainty with regard to upcoming inhibition to conditions of certain upcoming IC. Therefore, we investigated effects of certainty and uncertainty on behavior and blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in proactive and reactive IC. In two studies, healthy adults performed saccadic go/no-go and prosaccade/antisaccade tasks. The certainty manipulation had a highly significant behavioral effect in both studies, with inhibitory control being more successful under certain than uncertain conditions on both tasks (p ≤ 0.001). Saccadic go responses were significantly less efficient under conditions of uncertainty than certain responding (p < 0.001). Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (one study) revealed a dissociation of certainty- and uncertainty-related proactive inhibitory neural correlates in the go/no-go task, with lateral and medial prefrontal and occipital cortex showing stronger deactivations during uncertainty than during certain upcoming inhibition, and lateral parietal cortex being activated more strongly during certain upcoming inhibition than uncertainty or certain upcoming responding. In the antisaccade task, proactive BOLD effects arose due to stronger deactivations in uncertain response conditions of both tasks and before certain prosaccades than antisaccades. Reactive inhibition-related BOLD increases occurred in inferior parietal cortex and supramarginal gyrus (SMG) in the go/no-go task only. Proactive IC may imply focusing attention on the external environment for encoding salient or alerting events as well as inhibitory mechanisms that reduce potentially distracting neural processes. SMG and inferior parietal cortex may play an important role in both proactive and reactive IC of saccades.
Clément Tarrano; Nicolas Wattiez; Cécile Delorme; Eavan M. McGovern; Vanessa Brochard; Stéphane Thobois; Christine Tranchant; David Grabli; Bertrand Degos; Jean Christophe Corvol; Jean Michel Pedespan; Pierre Krystkoviak; Jean Luc Houeto; Adrian Degardin; Luc Defebvre; Romain Valabrègue; Marie Vidailhet; Pierre Pouget; Emmanuel Roze; Yulia Worbe
Visual sensory processing is altered in myoclonus dystonia Journal Article
In: Movement Disorders, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 151–160, 2020.
Background: Abnormal sensory processing, including temporal discrimination threshold, has been described in various dystonic syndromes. Objective: To investigate visual sensory processing in DYT-SGCE and identify its structural correlates. Methods: DYT-SGCE patients without DBS (DYT-SGCE-non-DBS) and with DBS (DYT-SGCE-DBS) were compared to healthy volunteers in three tasks: a temporal discrimination threshold, a movement orientation discrimination, and movement speed discrimination. Response times attributed to accumulation of sensory visual information were computationally modelized, with $mu$ parameter indicating sensory mean growth rate. We also identified the structural correlates of behavioral performance for temporal discrimination threshold. Results: Twenty-four DYT-SGCE-non-DBS, 13 DYT-SGCE-DBS, and 25 healthy volunteers were included in the study. In DYT-SGCE-DBS, the discrimination threshold was higher in the temporal discrimination threshold (P = 0.024), with no difference among the groups in other tasks. The sensory mean growth rate ($mu$) was lower in DYT-SGCE in all three tasks (P < 0.01), reflecting a slower rate of sensory accumulation for the visual information in these patients independent of DBS. Structural imaging analysis showed a thicker left primary visual cortex (P = 0.001) in DYT-SGCE-non-DBS compared to healthy volunteers, which also correlated with lower $mu$ in temporal discrimination threshold (P = 0.029). In DYT-SGCE-non-DBS, myoclonus severity also correlated with a lower $mu$ in the temporal discrimination threshold task (P = 0.048) and with thicker V1 on the left (P = 0.022). Conclusion: In DYT-SGCE, we showed an alteration of the visual sensory processing in the temporal discrimination threshold that correlated with myoclonus severity and structural changes in the primary visual cortex.
Raphael Vallat; Alain Nicolas; Perrine Ruby
In: Sleep, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 1–11, 2020.
Why do some individuals recall dreams every day while others hardly ever recall one? We hypothesized that sleep inertia—the transient period following awakening associated with brain and cognitive alterations—could be a key mechanism to explain interindividual differences in dream recall at awakening. To test this hypothesis, we measured the brain functional connectivity (combined electroencephalography–functional magnetic resonance imaging) and cognition (memory and mental calculation) of high dream recallers (HR
Tianlu Wang; Ronald Peeters; Dante Mantini; Céline R. Gillebert
In: NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 28, pp. 102513, 2020.
The intraparietal sulcus (IPS) plays a key role in the distribution of attention across the visual field. In stroke patients, an imbalance between left and right IPS activity has been related to a spatial bias in visual attention characteristic of hemispatial neglect. In this study, we describe the development and implementation of a real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback protocol to noninvasively and volitionally control the interhemispheric IPS activity balance in neurologically healthy participants. Six participants performed three neurofeedback training sessions across three weeks. Half of them trained to voluntarily increase brain activity in left relative to right IPS, while the other half trained to regulate the IPS activity balance in the opposite direction. Before and after the training, we estimated the distribution of attention across the visual field using a whole and partial report task. Over the course of the training, two of the three participants in the left-IPS group increased the activity in the left relative to the right IPS, while the participants in the right-IPS group were not able to regulate the interhemispheric IPS activity balance. We found no evidence for a decrease in resting-state functional connectivity between left and right IPS, and the spatial distribution of attention did not change over the course of the experiment. This study indicates the possibility to voluntarily modulate the interhemispheric IPS activity balance. Further research is warranted to examine the effectiveness of this technique in the rehabilitation of post-stroke hemispatial neglect.
Clifford I. Workman; Keith J. Yoder; Jean Decety
In: AJOB Neuroscience, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 269–284, 2020.
People are motivated by shared social values that, when held with moral conviction, can serve as compelling mandates capable of facilitating support for ideological violence. The current study examined this dark side of morality by identifying specific cognitive and neural mechanisms associated with beliefs about the appropriateness of sociopolitical violence, and determining the extent to which the engagement of these mechanisms was predicted by moral convictions. Participants reported their moral convictions about a variety of sociopolitical issues prior to undergoing functional MRI scanning. During scanning, they were asked to evaluate the appropriateness of violent protests that were ostensibly congruent or incongruent with their views about sociopolitical issues. Complementary univariate and multivariate analytical strategies comparing neural responses to congruent and incongruent violence identified neural mechanisms implicated in processing salience and in the encoding of subjective value. As predicted, neuro-hemodynamic response was modulated parametrically by individuals' beliefs about the appropriateness of congruent relative to incongruent sociopolitical violence in ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and by moral conviction in ventral striatum. Overall moral conviction was predicted by neural response to congruent relative to incongruent violence in amygdala. Together, these findings indicate that moral conviction about sociopolitical issues serves to increase their subjective value, overriding natural aversion to interpersonal harm.
Rick A. Adams; Daniel Bush; Fanfan Zheng; Sofie S. Meyer; Raphael Kaplan; Stelios Orfanos; Tiago Reis Marques; Oliver D. Howes; Neil Burgess
In: Brain, vol. 143, no. 3, pp. 1261–1277, 2020.
Frontotemporal dysconnectivity is a key pathology in schizophrenia. The specific nature of this dysconnectivity is unknown, but animal models imply dysfunctional theta phase coupling between hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We tested this hypothesis by examining neural dynamics in 18 participants with a schizophrenia diagnosis, both medicated and unmedicated; and 26 age, sex and IQ matched control subjects. All participants completed two tasks known to elicit hippocampal-prefrontal theta coupling: a spatial memory task (during magnetoencephalography) and a memory integration task. In addition, an overlapping group of 33 schizophrenia and 29 control subjects underwent PET to measure the availability of GABAARs expressing the a5 subunit (concentrated on hippocampal somatostatin interneurons). We demonstrate-in the spatial memory task, during memory recall-that theta power increases in left medial temporal lobe (mTL) are impaired in schizophrenia, as is theta phase coupling between mPFC and mTL. Importantly, the latter cannot be explained by theta power changes, head movement, antipsychotics, cannabis use, or IQ, and is not found in other frequency bands. Moreover, mPFC-mTL theta coupling correlated strongly with performance in controls, but not in subjects with schizophrenia, who were mildly impaired at the spatial memory task and no better than chance on the memory integration task. Finally, mTL regions showing reduced phase coupling in schizophrenia magnetoencephalography participants overlapped substantially with areas of diminished a5-GABAAR availability in the wider schizophrenia PET sample. These results indicate that mPFC-mTL dysconnectivity in schizophrenia is due to a loss of theta phase coupling, and imply a5-GABAARs (and the cells that express them) have a role in this process.
Yasaman Bagherzadeh; Daniel Baldauf; Dimitrios Pantazis; Robert Desimone
In: Neuron, vol. 105, no. 3, pp. 577–587.e5, 2020.
During MEG neurofeedback training, subjects learned to manipulate the degree of alpha synchrony over the left versus right parietal cortex. The change in alpha synchrony was associated with a corresponding bias in visual processing and attention in the corresponding visual field.
Sonya Bells; Silvia L. Isabella; Donald C. Brien; Brian C. Coe; Douglas P. Munoz; Donald J. Mabbott; Douglas O. Cheyne
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 41, no. 7, pp. 1934–1949, 2020.
Our ability to control and inhibit automatic behaviors is crucial for negotiating complex environments, all of which require rapid communication between sensory, motor, and cognitive networks. Here, we measured neuromagnetic brain activity to investigate the neural timing of cortical areas needed for inhibitory control, while 14 healthy young adults performed an interleaved prosaccade (look at a peripheral visual stimulus) and antisaccade (look away from stimulus) task. Analysis of how neural activity relates to saccade reaction time (SRT) and occurrence of direction errors (look at stimulus on antisaccade trials) provides insight into inhibitory control. Neuromagnetic source activity was used to extract stimulus-aligned and saccade-aligned activity to examine temporal differences between prosaccade and antisaccade trials in brain regions associated with saccade control. For stimulus-aligned antisaccade trials, a longer SRT was associated with delayed onset of neural activity within the ipsilateral parietal eye field (PEF) and bilateral frontal eye field (FEF). Saccade-aligned activity demonstrated peak activation 10ms before saccade-onset within the contralateral PEF for prosaccade trials and within the bilateral FEF for antisaccade trials. In addition, failure to inhibit prosaccades on anti-saccade trials was associated with increased activity prior to saccade onset within the FEF contralateral to the peripheral stimulus. This work on dynamic activity adds to our knowledge that direction errors were due, at least in part, to a failure to inhibit automatic prosaccades. These findings provide novel evidence in humans regarding the temporal dynamics within oculomotor areas needed for saccade programming and the role frontal brain regions have on top-down inhibitory control.
Mathieu Bourguignon; Martijn Baart; Efthymia C. Kapnoula; Nicola Molinaro
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 1053–1065, 2020.
Lip-reading is crucial for understanding speech in challenging conditions. But how the brain extracts meaning from, silent, visual speech is still under debate. Lip-reading in silence activates the auditory cortices, but it is not known whether such activation reflects immediate synthesis of the corresponding auditory stimulus or imagery of unrelated sounds. To disentangle these possibilities, we used magnetoencephalography to evaluate how cortical activity in 28 healthy adult humans (17 females) entrained to the auditory speech envelope and lip movements (mouth opening) when listening to a spoken story without visual input (audio-only), and when seeing a silent video of a speaker articulating another story (video-only). In video-only, auditory cortical activity entrained to the absent auditory signal at frequencies <1 Hz more than to the seen lip movements. This entrainment process was characterized by an auditory-speech-to-brain delay of $sim$70 ms in the left hemisphere, compared with $sim$20 ms in audio-only. Entrainment to mouth opening was found in the right angular gyrus at <1 Hz, and in early visual cortices at 1– 8 Hz. These findings demonstrate that the brain can use a silent lip-read signal to synthesize a coarse-grained auditory speech representation in early auditory cortices. Our data indicate the following underlying oscillatory mechanism: seeing lip movements first modulates neuronal activity in early visual cortices at frequencies that match articulatory lip movements; the right angular gyrus then extracts slower features of lip movements, mapping them onto the corresponding speech sound features; this information is fed to auditory cortices, most likely facilitating speech parsing.
Nadine Dijkstra; Luca Ambrogioni; Diego Vidaurre; Marcel Gerven
In: eLife, vol. 9, pp. 1–19, 2020.
After the presentation of a visual stimulus, neural processing cascades from low-level sensory areas to increasingly abstract representations in higher-level areas. It is often hypothesised that a reversal in neural processing underlies the generation of mental images as abstract representations are used to construct sensory representations in the absence of sensory input. According to predictive processing theories, such reversed processing also plays a central role in later stages of perception. Direct experimental evidence of reversals in neural information flow has been missing. Here, we used a combination of machine learning and magnetoencephalography to characterise neural dynamics in humans. We provide direct evidence for a reversal of the perceptual feed-forward cascade during imagery and show that, during perception, such reversals alternate with feed-forward processing in an 11 Hz oscillatory pattern. Together, these results show how common feedback processes support both veridical perception and mental imagery.
Stefan Dürschmid; Andre Maric; Marcel S. Kehl; Robert T Knight; Hermann Hinrichs; Hans-Jochen Heinz
In: Journal of Neuroscience, 2020.
Impulsive decisions arise from preferring smaller but sooner rewards compared to larger but later rewards. How neural activity and attention to choice alternatives contribute to reward decisions during temporal discounting is not clear. Here we probed (i) attention to and (ii) neural representation of delay and reward information in humans (both sexes) engaged in choices. We studied behavioral and frequency specific dynamics supporting impulsive decisions on a fine-grained temporal scale using eye tracking and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings. In one condition participants had to decide for themselves but pretended to decide for their best friend in a second prosocial condition, which required perspective taking. Hence, conditions varied in the value for themselves versus that pretending to choose for another person. Stronger impulsivity was reliably found across three independent groups for prosocial decisions. Eye tracking revealed a systematic shift of attention from the delay to the reward information and differences in eye tracking between conditions predicted differences in discounting. High frequency activity (HFA: 175-250 Hz) distributed over right fronto-temporal sensors correlated with delay and reward information in consecutive temporal intervals for high value decisions for oneself but not the friend. Collectively the results imply that the HFA recorded over fronto-temporal MEG sensors plays a critical role in choice option integration.
Ying Joey Zhou; Alexis Pérez-Bellido; Saskia Haegens; Floris P. Lange
In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 1–12, 2019.
Perceptual expectations can change how a visual stimulus is perceived. Recent studies have shown mixed results in terms of whether expectations modulate sensory representations. Here, we used a statistical learning paradigm to study the temporal characteristics of perceptual expectations. We presented participants with pairs of object images organized in a predictive manner and then recorded their brain activity with magnetoencephalography while they viewed expected and unexpected image pairs on the subsequent day. We observed stronger alpha-band (7–14 Hz) activity in response to unexpected compared with expected object images. Specifically, the alpha-band modulation occurred as early as the onset of the stimuli and was most pronounced in left occipito-temporal cortex. Given that the differential response to expected versus unexpected stimuli occurred in sensory regions early in time, our results suggest that expectations modulate perceptual decision-making by changing the sensory response elicited by the stimuli.
Chun-Ting Hsu; Roy Clariana; Benjamin Schloss; Ping Li
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 9, pp. 10678, 2019.
How do students gain scientific knowledge while reading expository text? This study examines the underlying neurocognitive basis of textual knowledge structure and individual readers' cognitive differences and reading habits, including the influence of text and reader characteristics, on outcomes of scientific text comprehension. By combining fixation-related fMRI and multiband data acquisition, the study is among the first to consider self-paced naturalistic reading inside the MRI scanner. Our results revealed the underlying neurocognitive patterns associated with information integration of different time scales during text reading, and significant individual differences due to the interaction between text characteristics (e.g., optimality of the textual knowledge structure) and reader characteristics (e.g., electronic device use habits). Individual differences impacted the amount of neural resources deployed for multitasking and information integration for constructing the underlying scientific mental models based on the text being read. Our findings have significant implications for understanding science reading in a population that is increasingly dependent on electronic devices.
Rotem Botvinik-Nezer; Roni Iwanir; Felix Holzmeister; Jürgen Huber; Magnus Johannesson; Michael Kirchler; Anna Dreber; Colin F. Camerer; Russell A. Poldrack; Tom Schonberg
In: Scientific Data, vol. 6, pp. 106, 2019.
There is an ongoing debate about the replicability of neuroimaging research. It was suggested that one of the main reasons for the high rate of false positive results is the many degrees of freedom researchers have during data analysis. In the Neuroimaging Analysis Replication and Prediction Study (NARPS), we aim to provide the first scientific evidence on the variability of results across analysis teams in neuroscience. We collected fMRI data from 108 participants during two versions of the mixed gambles task, which is often used to study decision-making under risk. For each participant, the dataset includes an anatomical (T1 weighted) scan and fMRI as well as behavioral data from four runs of the task. The dataset is shared through OpenNeuro and is formatted according to the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) standard. Data pre-processed with fMRIprep and quality control reports are also publicly shared. This dataset can be used to study decision-making under risk and to test replicability and interpretability of previous results in the field.
Mariya E. Manahova; Eelke Spaak; Floris P. Lange
Familiarity increases processing speed in the visual system Journal Article
In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 1–12, 2019.
Familiarity with a stimulus leads to an attenuated neural response to the stimulus. Alongside this attenuation, recent studies have also observed a truncation of stimulus-evoked activity for familiar visual input. One proposed function of this truncation is to rapidly put neurons in a state of readiness to respond to new input. Here, we examined this hypothesis by presenting human participants with target stimuli that were embedded in rapid streams of familiar or novel distractor stimuli at different speeds of presentation, while recording brain activity using magnetoencephalography and measuring behavioral performance. We investigated the temporal and spatial dynamics of signal truncation and whether this phenomenon bears relationship to participants' ability to categorize target items within a visual stream. Behaviorally, target categorization performance was markedly better when the target was embedded within familiar distractors, and this benefit became more pronounced with increasing speed of presentation. Familiar distractors showed a truncation of neural activity in the visual system. This truncation was strongest for the fastest presentation speeds and peaked in progressively more anterior cortical regions as presentation speeds became slower. Moreover, the neural response evoked by the target was stronger when this target was preceded by familiar distractors. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that item familiarity results in a truncated neural response, is associated with stronger processing of relevant target information, and leads to superior perceptual performance.
Jessica E. Goold; Wonil Choi; John M. Henderson
In: Experimental Brain Research, vol. 237, no. 12, pp. 3099–3107, 2019.
Language comprehension during reading requires fine-grained management of saccadic eye movements. A critical question, therefore, is how the brain controls eye movements in reading. Neural correlates of simple eye movements have been found in multiple cortical regions, but little is known about how this network operates in reading. To investigate this question in the present study, participants were presented with normal text, pseudo-word text, and consonant string text in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with eyetracking. Participants read naturally in the normal text condition and moved their eyes “as if they were reading” in the other conditions. Multi-voxel pattern analysis was used to analyze the fMRI signal in the oculomotor network. We found that activation patterns in a subset of network regions differentiated between stimulus types. These results suggest that the oculomotor network reflects more than simple saccade generation and are consistent with the hypothesis that specific network areas interface with cognitive systems.
Benjamin T. Carter; Steven G. Luke
In: Data in Brief, vol. 25, pp. 1–21, 2019.
The data presented in this document was created to explore the effect of including or excluding word length, word frequency, the lexical predictability of function words and first pass reading time (or the duration of the first fixation on a word) as either baseline regressors or duration modulators on the final analysis for a fixation-related fMRI investigation of linguistic processing. The effect of these regressors was a central question raised during the review of Linguistic networks associated with lexical, semantic and syntactic predictability in reading: A fixation-related fMRI study . Three datasets were created and compared to the original dataset to determine their effect. The first examines the effect of adding word length and word frequency as baseline regressors. The second examines the effect of removing first pass reading time as a duration modulator. The third examines the inclusion of function word predictability into the baseline hemodynamic response function. Statistical maps were created for each dataset and compared to the primary dataset (published in ) across the linguistic conditions of the initial dataset (lexical predictability, semantic predictability or syntax predictability).
Kristin Koller; Christopher M. Hatton; Robert D. Rogers; Robert D. Rafal
In: European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 50, no. 11, pp. 3804–3813, 2019.
Current concepts of the extended amygdala posit that basolateral to central amygdala projections mediate fear-conditioned autonomic alerting, whereas projections to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis mediate sustained anxiety. Using diffusion tensor imaging tractography in humans, we show that microstructure of the stria terminalis correlates with an orienting bias towards threat in a saccade decision task, providing the first evidence that this circuit supports decisions guiding evaluation of threatening stimuli.
Justin Riddle; Kai Hwang; Dillan Cellier; Sofia Dhanani; Mark D'esposito
In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 768–779, 2019.
Beta and gamma frequency neuronal oscillations have been implicated in top–down and bottom–up attention. In this study, we used rhythmic TMS to modulate ongoing beta and gamma frequency neuronal oscillations in frontal and parietal cortex while human participants performed a visual search task that manipulates bottom–up and top–down attention (single feature and conjunction search). Both task conditions will engage bottom–up attention processes, although the conjunction search condition will require more top–down attention. Gamma frequency TMS to superior precentral sulcus (sPCS) slowed saccadic RTs during both task conditions and induced a response bias to the contralateral visual field. In contrary, beta frequency TMS to sPCS and intraparietal sulcus decreased search accuracy only during the conjunction search condition that engaged more top–down attention. Furthermore, beta frequency TMS increased trial errors specifically when the target was in the ipsilateral visual field for the conjunction search condition. These results indicate that beta frequency TMS to sPCS and intraparietal sulcus disrupted top–down attention, whereas gamma frequency TMS to sPCS disrupted bottom–up, stimulus-driven attention processes. These findings provide causal evidence suggesting that beta and gamma oscillations have distinct functional roles for cognition.
Christiane S. Rohr; Dennis Dimond; Manuela Schuetze; Ivy Y. K. Cho; Limor Lichtenstein-Vidne; Hadas Okon-Singer; Deborah Dewey; Signe Bray
In: Neuropsychologia, vol. 127, pp. 84–92, 2019.
Attention traits are a cornerstone to the healthy development of children's performance in the classroom, their interactions with peers, and in predicting future success and problems. The cerebellum is increasingly appreciated as a region involved in complex cognition and behavior, and moreover makes important connections to key brain networks known to support attention: the dorsal attention and default mode networks (DAN; DMN). The cerebellum has also been implicated in childhood disorders affecting attention, namely autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suggesting that attention networks extending to the cerebellum may be important to consider in relation to attentive traits. Yet, direct investigations into the association between cerebellar FC and attentive traits are lacking. Therefore, in this study we examined attentive traits, assessed using parent reports of ADHD and ASD symptoms, in a community sample of 52 girls aged 4–7 years, i.e. around the time of school entry, and their association with cerebellar connections with the DAN and DMN. We found that cortico-cerebellar functional connectivity (FC) jointly and differentially correlated with attentive traits, through a combination of weaker and stronger FC across anterior and posterior DAN and DMN nodes. These findings suggest that cortico-cerebellar integration may play an important role in the manifestation of attentive traits.
Pia Schröder; Timo Torsten Schmidt; Felix Blankenburg
In: eLife, vol. 8, pp. 1–19, 2019.
Research on somatosensory awareness has yielded highly diverse findings with putative neural correlates ranging from activity within somatosensory cortex to activation of widely distributed frontoparietal networks. Divergent results from previous studies may reside in cognitive processes that often coincide with stimulus awareness in experimental settings. To scrutinise the specific relevance of regions implied in the target detection network, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (n = 27) on a novel somatosensory detection task that explicitly controls for stimulus uncertainty, behavioural relevance, overt reports, and motor responses. Using Bayesian Model Selection, we show that responses reflecting target detection are restricted to secondary somatosensory cortex, whereas activity in insular, cingulate, and motor regions is best explained in terms of stimulus uncertainty and overt reports. Our results emphasise the role of sensory-specific cortex for the emergence of perceptual awareness and dissect the contribution of the frontoparietal network to classical detection tasks.
Sarah E. Schwettmann; Joshua B. Tenenbaum; Nancy Kanwisher
Invariant representations of mass in the human brain Journal Article
In: eLife, vol. 8, pp. 1–26, 2019.
An intuitive understanding of physical objects and events is critical for successfully interacting with the world. Does the brain achieve this understanding by running simulations in a mental physics engine, which represents variables such as force and mass, or by analyzing patterns of motion without encoding underlying physical quantities? To investigate, we scanned participants with fMRI while they viewed videos of objects interacting in scenarios indicating their mass. Decoding analyses in brain regions previously implicated in intuitive physical inference revealed mass representations that generalized across variations in scenario, material, friction, and motion energy. These invariant representations were found during tasks without action planning, and tasks focusing on an orthogonal dimension (object color). Our results support an account of physical reasoning where abstract physical variables serve as inputs to a forward model of dynamics, akin to a physics engine, in parietal and frontal cortex.
Michael J. Spilka; Daniel J. Pittman; Signe L. Bray; Vina M. Goghari
In: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. 128, no. 8, pp. 855–866, 2019.
Individuals with schizophrenia exhibit deficits in facial emotion processing, which have been associated with abnormalities in visual gaze behavior and functional brain activation. However, the relationship between gaze behavior and brain activation in schizophrenia remains unexamined. Studies in healthy individuals and other clinical samples indicate a relationship between gaze behavior and functional activation in brain regions implicated in facial emotion processing deficits in schizophrenia (e.g., fusiform gyrus), prompting the question of whether a similar relationship exists in schizophrenia. This study examined whether manipulating visual scanpaths during facial emotion perception would modulate functional brain activation in a sample of 23 schizophrenia patients and 26 community controls. Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while viewing pictures of emotional faces. During the typical viewing condition, a fixation cue directed participants' gaze primarily to the eyes and mouth, whereas during the atypical viewing condition gaze was directed to peripheral features. Both viewing conditions elicited a robust response throughout face-processing regions. Typical viewing led to greater activation in visual association cortex including the right inferior occipital gyrus/occipital face area, whereas atypical viewing elicited greater activation in primary visual cortex and regions involved in attentional control. There were no between-groups activation differences in response to faces or interaction between group and gaze manipulation. The results indicate that gaze behavior modulates functional activation in early face-processing regions in individuals with and without schizophrenia, suggesting that abnormal gaze behavior in schizophrenia may contribute to activation abnormalities during facial emotion perception.
Gabor Stefanics; Klaas Enno Stephan; Jakob Heinzle
Feature-specific prediction errors for visual mismatch Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 196, pp. 142–151, 2019.
Predictive coding (PC) theory posits that our brain employs a predictive model of the environment to infer the causes of its sensory inputs. A fundamental but untested prediction of this theory is that the same stimulus should elicit distinct precision weighted prediction errors (pwPEs) when different (feature-specific) predictions are violated, even in the absence of attention. Here, we tested this hypothesis using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a multi-feature roving visual mismatch paradigm where rare changes in either color (red, green), or emotional expression (happy, fearful) of faces elicited pwPE responses in human participants. Using a computational model of learning and inference, we simulated pwPE and prediction trajectories of a Bayes-optimal observer and used these to analyze changes in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) responses to changes in color and emotional expression of faces while participants engaged in a distractor task. Controlling for visual attention by eye-tracking, we found pwPE responses to unexpected color changes in the fusiform gyrus. Conversely, unexpected changes of facial emotions elicited pwPE responses in cortico-thalamo-cerebellar structures associated with emotion and theory of mind processing. Predictions pertaining to emotions activated fusiform, occipital and temporal areas. Our results are consistent with a general role of PC across perception, from low-level to complex and socially relevant object features, and suggest that monitoring of the social environment occurs continuously and automatically, even in the absence of attention.
Raphael Vallat; David Meunier; Alain Nicolas; Perrine Ruby
In: NeuroImage, vol. 184, pp. 266–278, 2019.
The first minutes following awakening from sleep are typically marked by reduced vigilance, increased sleepiness and impaired performance, a state referred to as sleep inertia. Although the behavioral aspects of sleep inertia are well documented, its cerebral correlates remain poorly understood. The present study aimed at filling this gap by measuring in 34 participants the changes in behavioral performance (descending subtraction task, DST), EEG spectral power, and resting-state fMRI functional connectivity across three time points: before an early-afternoon 45-min nap, 5 min after awakening from the nap and 25 min after awakening. Our results showed impaired performance at the DST at awakening and an intrusion of sleep-specific features (spectral power and functional connectivity) into wakefulness brain activity, the intensity of which was dependent on the prior sleep duration and depth for the functional connectivity (14 participants awakened from N2 sleep, 20 from N3 sleep). Awakening in N3 (deep) sleep induced the most robust changes and was characterized by a global loss of brain functional segregation between task-positive (dorsal attention, salience, sensorimotor) and task-negative (default mode) networks. Significant correlations were observed notably between the EEG delta power and the functional connectivity between the default and dorsal attention networks, as well as between the percentage of mistake at the DST and the default network functional connectivity. These results highlight (1) significant correlations between EEG and fMRI functional connectivity measures, (2) significant correlations between the behavioral aspect of sleep inertia and measures of the cerebral functioning at awakening (both EEG and fMRI), and (3) the important difference in the cerebral underpinnings of sleep inertia at awakening from N2 and N3 sleep.
Rozemarijn S. Kleef; Claudi L. H. Bockting; Evelien Valen; André Aleman; Jan Bernard C. Marsman; Marie José Tol
Neurocognitive working mechanisms of the prevention of relapse in remitted recurrent depression (NEWPRIDE): Protocol of a randomized controlled neuroimaging trial of preventive cognitive therapy Journal Article
In: BMC Psychiatry, vol. 19, pp. 1–11, 2019.
Background: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a psychiatric disorder with a highly recurrent character, making prevention of relapse an important clinical goal. Preventive Cognitive Therapy (PCT) has been proven effective in preventing relapse, though not for every patient. A better understanding of relapse vulnerability and working mechanisms of preventive treatment may inform effective personalized intervention strategies. Neurocognitive models of MDD suggest that abnormalities in prefrontal control over limbic emotion-processing areas during emotional processing and regulation are important in understanding relapse vulnerability. Whether changes in these neurocognitive abnormalities are induced by PCT and thus play an important role in mediating the risk for recurrent depression, is currently unclear. In the Neurocognitive Working Mechanisms of the Prevention of Relapse In Depression (NEWPRIDE) study, we aim to 1) study neurocognitive factors underpinning the vulnerability for relapse, 2) understand the neurocognitive working mechanisms of PCT, 3) predict longitudinal treatment effects based on pre-treatment neurocognitive characteristics, and 4) validate the pupil dilation response as a marker for prefrontal activity, reflecting emotion regulation capacity and therapy success. Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 75 remitted recurrent MDD (rrMDD) patients will be included. Detailed clinical and cognitive measurements, fMRI scanning and pupillometry will be performed at baseline and three-month follow-up. In the interval, 50 rrMDD patients will be randomized to eight sessions of PCT and 25 rrMDD patients to a waiting list. At baseline, 25 healthy control participants will be additionally included to objectify cross-sectional residual neurocognitive abnormalities in rrMDD. After 18 months, clinical assessments of relapse status are performed to investigate which therapy induced changes predict relapse in the 50 patients allocated to PCT. Discussion: The present trial is the first to study the neurocognitive vulnerability factors underlying relapse and mediating relapse prevention, their value for predicting PCT success and whether pupil dilation acts as a valuable marker in this regard. Ultimately, a deeper understanding of relapse prevention could contribute to the development of better targeted preventive interventions. Trial registration: Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register, August 18, 2015, trial number NL5219.
Chayenne Van Meel; Annelies Baeck; Céline R. Gillebert; Johan Wagemans; Hans P. Op de Beeck
In: NeuroImage, vol. 191, pp. 216–224, 2019.
Several computational models explain how symmetry might be detected and represented in the human brain. However, while there is an abundance of psychophysical studies on symmetry detection and several neural studies showing where and when symmetry is detected in the brain, important questions remain about how this detection happens and how symmetric patterns are represented. We studied the representation of (vertical) symmetry in regions of the ventral visual stream, using multi-voxel pattern analyses (MVPA) and functional connectivity analyses. Our results suggest that neural representations gradually change throughout the ventral visual stream, from very similar part-based representations for symmetrical and asymmetrical stimuli in V1 and V2, over increasingly different representations for symmetrical and asymmetrical stimuli which are nevertheless still part-based in both V3 and V4, to a more holistic representation for symmetrical compared to asymmetrical stimuli in high-level LOC. This change in representations is accompanied by increased communication between left and right retinotopic areas, evidenced by higher interhemispheric functional connectivity during symmetry perception in areas V2 and V4.
Sonja Well; John P. O'Doherty; Frans Winden
Relief from incidental fear evokes exuberant risk taking Journal Article
In: PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. e0211018, 2019.
Incidental emotions are defined as feelings that are unrelated to a decision task at hand and thereby not normatively relevant for making choices. The precise influence and formal theoretical implications of incidental emotions regarding financial risk taking are still largely unclear. An effect of incidental emotion on decision-making would challenge the main extant formal theoretical economic models because such models do not allow for an effect of incidental emotions. As financial risk taking is pervasive in modern economies, the role of incidental emotions is an important issue. The goal of this experimental study is threefold. First, we examine the impact of incidental fear on the choice between a sure and a risky monetary option. A well-validated method of fear induction, using electric shocks, is employed for that purpose. Based on emotion studies we hypothesize less risk taking under fear and more risk taking when relieved of fear. Our second goal is to investigate the relative performance of the main existing formal theoretical economic models (based on Expected Utility Theory, Prospect Theory, or the Mean-Variance model) in explaining the behavioral data. We also investigate how these models can be adjusted to accommodate any observed influence of incidental emotion. For that reason, we first theoretically model the potential pathways of incidental fear (and the relief thereof) via the valuation of the choice option rewards or risk-assessment. We then estimate the relevant parameters allowing for both additive as well as interactive effects. Our third and final goal is to explore the neural basis of any observed influence of incidental emotions on decision-making by means of a model-based fMRI analysis, using the findings of existing neuroeconomic studies as the basis for our hypotheses. Our results indicate that the relief of fear can give a substantial boost to financial risk taking (suggestive of exuberance). This impact is best captured by Prospect Theory if we allow for an increase in participants' valuation of option outcomes when relieved of fear. Moreover, this impact is manifested at the neural level by the activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a brain area widely regarded as being central for valuation.
Maryam Vaziri-Pashkam; Yaoda Xu
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 2034–2050, 2019.
Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of rich visual representations in both occipitotemporal cortex (OTC) and posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Using fMRI decoding and a bottom-up data-driven approach, we showed that although robust object category representations exist in both OTC and PPC, there is an information-driven 2-pathway separation among these regions in the representational space, with occipitotemporal regions arranging hierarchically along 1 pathway and posterior parietal regions along another pathway. We obtained 10 independent replications of this 2-pathway distinction, accounting for 58-81% of the total variance of the region-wise differences in visual representation. The separation of the PPC regions from higher occipitotemporal regions was not driven by a difference in tolerance to changes in low-level visual features, did not rely on the presence of special object categories, and was present whether or not object category was task relevant. Our information-driven 2-pathway structure differs from the well-known ventral-what and dorsal-where/how characterization of posterior brain regions. Here both pathways contain rich nonspatial visual representations. The separation we see likely reflects a difference in neural coding scheme used by PPC to represent visual information compared with that of OTC.
Lorenzo Vignali; Stefan Hawelka; Florian Hutzler; Fabio Richlan
Processing of parafoveally presented words. An fMRI study Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 184, pp. 1–9, 2019.
The present fMRI study investigated neural correlates of parafoveal preprocessing during reading and the type of information that is accessible from the upcoming - not yet fixated - word. Participants performed a lexical decision flanker task while the constraints imposed by the first three letters (the initial trigram) of parafoveally presented words were controlled. Behavioral results evidenced that the amount of information extracted from parafoveal stimuli, was affected by the difficulty of the foveal stimulus. Easy to process foveal stimuli (i.e., high frequency nouns) allowed parafoveal information to be extracted up to the lexical level. Conversely, when foveal stimuli were difficult to process (orthographically legal nonwords) only constraining trigrams modulated the task performance. Neuroimaging findings showed no effects of lexicality (i.e., difference between words and pseudowords) in the parafovea independently from the difficulty of the foveal stimulus. The constraints imposed by the initial trigrams, however, modulated the hemodynamic response in the left supramarginal gyrus. We interpreted the supramarginal activation as reflecting sublexical (phonological) processes. The missing parafoveal lexicality effect was discussed in relation to findings of experiments which observed effects of parafoveal semantic congruency on electrophysiological correlates.
Katharina Voigt; Carsten Murawski; Sebastian Speer; Stefan Bode
Hard decisions shape the neural coding of preferences Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 718–726, 2019.
Hard decisions between equally valued alternatives can result in preference changes, meaning that subsequent valuations for chosen items increaseanddecrease for rejected items. Previous research suggests that thisphenomenon is aconsequenceofcognitive dissonance reduction after the decision, induced by the mismatch between initial preferences and decision outcomes. In contrast, this functional magnetic resonance imaging and eye-tracking study with male and female human participants found that preferences are already updated online during the process of decision-making. Preference changes were predicted from activity in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortexandprecuneus whilemakinghard decisions. Fixation durations during this phase predicted both choice outcomesandsubsequent preference changes. These preference adjustments became behaviorally relevant only for choices that were rememberedand were in turn associated with hippocampus activity. Our results suggest that preferences evolve dynamically as decisions arise, potentially as a mechanism to prevent stalemate situations in underdetermined decision scenarios.
Eelke Vries; Daniel Baldauf
In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 10, pp. 1573–1588, 2019.
We recorded magnetoencephalography using a neural entrainment paradigm with compound face stimuli that allowed for entraining the processing of various parts of a face (eyes, mouth) as well as changes in facial identity. Our magnetic response image-guided magnetoencephalography analyses revealed that different subnodes of the human face processing network were entrained differentially according to their functional specialization. Whereas the occipital face area was most responsive to the rate at which face parts (e.g., the mouth) changed, and face patches in the STS were mostly entrained by rhythmic changes in the eye region, the fusiform face area was the only subregion that was strongly entrained by the rhythmic changes in facial identity. Furthermore, top–down attention to the mouth, eyes, or identity of the face selectively modulated the neural processing in the respective area (i.e., occipital face area, STS, or fusiform face area), resembling behavioral cue validity effects observed in the participants' RT and detection rate data. Our results show the attentional weighting of the visual processing of different aspects and dimensions of a single face object, at various stages of the involved visual processing hierarchy.
Liping Wang; Marie Amalric; Wen Fang; Xinjian Jiang; Christophe Pallier; Santiago Figueira; Mariano Sigman; Stanislas Dehaene
In: NeuroImage, vol. 186, pp. 245–255, 2019.
Memory for spatial sequences does not depend solely on the number of locations to be stored, but also on the presence of spatial regularities. Here, we show that the human brain quickly stores spatial sequences by detecting geometrical regularities at multiple time scales and encoding them in a format akin to a programming language. We measured gaze-anticipation behavior while spatial sequences of variable regularity were repeated. Participants' behavior suggested that they quickly discovered the most compact description of each sequence in a language comprising nested rules, and used these rules to compress the sequence in memory and predict the next items. Activity in dorsal inferior prefrontal cortex correlated with the amount of compression, while right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex encoded the presence of embedded structures. Sequence learning was accompanied by a progressive differentiation of multi-voxel activity patterns in these regions. We propose that humans are endowed with a simple “language of geometry” which recruits a dorsal prefrontal circuit for geometrical rules, distinct from but close to areas involved in natural language processing.
Noriya Watanabe; Jamil P. Bhanji; Hideki Ohira; Mauricio R. Delgado
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 29, no. 7, pp. 3010–3022, 2019.
Preparing for a challenging task can increase physiological arousal, in particular when potential incentives are large (e.g., a solo musical performance in front of an audience). Here, we examine how potential reward and its influence on arousal, measured by pupil dynamics, are represented in the brain while preparing for a challenging task. We further ask how neural representations during preparation relate to actual performance. Trials resulting in performance failure were characterized by increased pupil dilation as a function of increasing reward magnitude during preparation. Such failure trials were also associated with activation of the right amygdala representing pupil dilation, and the left caudate representing reward magnitude. Notably, increases in functional connectivity between amygdala and caudate preceded performance failure. These findings highlight increased connectivity between neural regions representing reward and arousal in circumstances where reward-driven arousal impairs performance.
Noriya Watanabe; Jamil P. Bhanji; Hiroki C. Tanabe; Mauricio R. Delgado
In: NeuroImage, vol. 202, pp. 116136, 2019.
When preparing for a challenging task, potential rewards can cause physiological arousal that may impair performance. In this case, it is important to control reward-driven arousal while preparing for task execution. We recently examined neural representations of physiological arousal and potential reward magnitude during preparation, and found that performance failure was explained by relatively increased reward representation in the left caudate nucleus and arousal representation in the right amygdala (Watanabe, et al., 2019). Here we examine how prefrontal cortex influences the amygdala and caudate to control reward-driven arousal. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) exhibited activity that was negatively correlated with trial-wise physiological arousal change, which identified this region as a potential modulator of amygdala and caudate. Next we tested the VMPFC - amygdala - caudate effective network using dynamic causal modeling (Friston et al., 2003). Post-hoc Bayesian model selection (Friston and Penny, 2011) identified a model that best fit data, in which amygdala activation was suppressively controlled by the VMPFC only in success trials. Furthermore, fixed connectivity strength from VMPFC to amygdala explained individual task performance. These findings highlight the role of effective connectivity from VMPFC to amygdala in order to control arousal during preparation for successful performance.
Yuan Wu; Lisa A. Velenosi; Pia Schröder; Simon Ludwig; Felix Blankenburg
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 1898–1907, 2019.
Decision-making in the somatosensory domain has been intensively studied using vibrotactile frequency discrimination tasks. Results from human and monkey electrophysiological studies from this line of research suggest that perceptual choices are encoded within a sensorimotor network. These findings, however, rely on experimental settings in which perceptual choices are inextricably linked to sensory and motor components of the task. Here, we devised a novel version of the vibrotactile frequency discrimination task with saccade responses which has the crucial advantage of decoupling perceptual choices from sensory and motor processes. We recorded human fMRI data from 32 participants while they performed the task. Using a whole-brain searchlight multivariate classification technique, we identify the left lateral prefrontal cortex and the oculomotor system, including the bilateral frontal eye fields (FEF) and intraparietal sulci, as representing vibrotactile choices. Moreover, we show that the decoding accuracy of choice information in the right FEF correlates with behavioral performance. Not only are these findings in remarkable agreement with previous work, they also provide novel fMRI evidence for choice coding in human oculomotor regions, which is not limited to saccadic decisions, but pertains to contexts where choices are made in a more abstract form.
Yaoda Xu; Maryam Vaziri-Pashkam
In: Neuropsychologia, vol. 132, pp. 107140, 2019.
Recent studies have reported the existence of rich non-spatial visual object representations in both human and monkey posterior parietal cortex (PPC), similar to those found in occipito-temporal cortex (OTC). Despite this similarity, we recently showed that visual object representation still differ between OTC and PPC in two aspects. In one study, by manipulating whether object shape or color was task relevant, we showed that visual object representations were under greater top-down attention and task control in PPC than in OTC (Vaziri-Pashkam & Xu, 2017, J Neurosci). In another study, using a bottom-up data driven approach, we showed that there exists a large separation between PPC and OTC regions in the representational space, with OTC regions lining up hierarchically along an OTC pathway and PPC regions lining up hierarchically along an orthogonal PPC pathway (Vaziri-Pashkam & Xu, 2019, Cereb Cortex). To understand the interaction of goal-driven visual processing and the two-pathway structure in the representational space, here we performed a set of new analyses of the data from the three experiments of Vaziri-Pashkam and Xu (2017) and directly compared the two-pathway separation of OTC and PPC regions when object shapes were attended and task relevant and when they were not. We found that in all three experiments the correlation of visual object representational structure between superior IPS (a key PPC visual region) and lateral and ventral occipito-temporal regions (higher OTC visual regions) became greater when object shapes were attended than when they were not. This modified the two-pathway structure, with PPC regions moving closer to higher OTC regions and a compression of the PPC pathway towards the OTC pathway in the representational space when shapes were attended. Consistent with this observation, the correlation between neural and behavioral measures of visual representational structure was also higher in superior IPS when shapes were attended than when they were not. By comparing representational structures across experiments and tasks, we further showed that attention to object shape resulted in the formation of more similar object representations in superior IPS across experiments than between the two tasks within the same experiment despite noise and stimulus differences across the experiments. Overall, these results demonstrated that, despite the separation of the OTC and PPC pathways in the representational space, the visual representational structure of PPC is flexible and can be modulated by the task demand. This reaffirms the adaptive nature of visual processing in PPC and further distinguishes it from the more invariant nature of visual processing in OTC.
Imme C. Zillekens; Marie Luise Brandi; Juha M. Lahnakoski; Atesh Koul; Valeria Manera; Cristina Becchio; Leonhard Schilbach
In: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 97–107, 2019.
Interpersonal predictive coding (IPPC) describes the behavioral phenomenon whereby seeing a communicative rather than an individual action helps to discern a masked second agent. As little is known, yet, about the neural correlates of IPPC, we conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging study in a group of 27 healthy participants using point-light displays of moving agents embedded in distractors. We discovered that seeing communicative compared to individual actions was associated with higher activation of right superior frontal gyrus, whereas the reversed contrast elicited increased neural activation in an action observation network that was activated during all trials. Our findings, therefore, potentially indicate the formation of action predictions and a reduced demand for executive control in response to communicative actions. Further, in a regression analysis, we revealed that increased perceptual sensitivity was associated with a deactivation of the left amygdala during the perceptual task. A consecutive psychophysiological interaction analysis showed increased connectivity of the amygdala with medial prefrontal cortex in the context of communicative compared to individual actions. Thus, whereas increased amygdala signaling might interfere with task-relevant processes, increased co-activation of the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex in a communicative context might represent the integration of mentalizing computations.
Sonya Bells; Jérémie Lefebvre; Giulia Longoni; Sridar Narayanan; Douglas L. Arnold; Eleun Ann Yeh; Donald J. Mabbott
White matter plasticity and maturation in human cognition Journal Article
In: Glia, vol. 67, no. 11, pp. 2020–2037, 2019.
White matter plasticity likely plays a critical role in supporting cognitive development. However, few studies have used the imaging methods specific to white matter tissue structure or experimental designs sensitive to change in white matter necessary to elucidate these relations. Here we briefly review novel imaging approaches that provide more specific information regarding white matter microstructure. Furthermore, we highlight recent studies that provide greater clarity regarding the relations between changes in white matter and cognition maturation in both healthy children and adolescents and those with white matter insult. Finally, we examine the hypothesis that white matter is linked to cognitive function via its impact on neural synchro- nization. We test this hypothesis in a population of children and adolescents with recurrent demyelinating syndromes. Specifically, we evaluate group differences in white matter microstructure within the optic radiation; and neural phase synchrony in visual cortex during a visual task between 25 patients and 28 typically developing age-matched controls. Children and adolescents with demyelinating syndromes show evidence of myelin and axonal compromise and this compromise predicts reduced phase synchrony during a visual task compared to typically developing controls. We investigate one plausible mechanism at play in this relationship using a computational model of gamma generation in early visual cortical areas. Overall, our findings show a fundamental connection between white matter microstructure and neural synchronization that may be critical for cognitive processing. In the future, longitudinal or interventional studies can build upon our knowledge of these exciting relations between white matter, neural communication, and cognition.
Antea D'Andrea; Federico Chella; Tom R. Marshall; Vittorio Pizzella; Gian Luca Romani; Ole Jensen; Laura Marzetti
In: NeuroImage, vol. 188, pp. 722–732, 2019.
It is well known that attentional selection of relevant information relies on local synchronization of alpha band neuronal oscillations in visual cortices for inhibition of distracting inputs. Additionally, evidence for long-range coupling of neuronal oscillations between visual cortices and regions engaged in the anticipation of upcoming stimuli has been more recently provided. Nevertheless, on the one hand the relation between long-range functional coupling and anatomical connections is still to be assessed, and, on the other hand, the specific role of the alpha and beta frequency bands in the different processes underlying visuo-spatial attention still needs further clarification. We address these questions using measures of linear (frequency-specific) and nonlinear (cross-frequency) phase-synchronization in a cohort of 28 healthy subjects using magnetoencephalography. We show that alpha band phase-synchronization is modulated by the orienting of attention according to a parieto-occipital top-down mechanism reflecting behavior, and its hemispheric asymmetry is predicted by volume's asymmetry of specific tracts of the Superior-Longitudinal-Fasciculus. We also show that a network comprising parietal regions and the right putative Frontal-Eye-Field, but not the left, is recruited in the deployment of spatial attention through an alpha-beta cross-frequency coupling. Overall, we demonstrate that the visuospatial attention network features subsystems indexed by characteristic spectral fingerprints, playing different functional roles in the anticipation of upcoming stimuli and with diverse relation to fiber tracts.
Linda Drijvers; Mircea Plas; Asli Özyürek; Ole Jensen
In: NeuroImage, vol. 194, pp. 55–67, 2019.
Listeners are often challenged by adverse listening conditions during language comprehension induced by external factors, such as noise, but also internal factors, such as being a non-native listener. Visible cues, such as semantic information conveyed by iconic gestures, can enhance language comprehension in such situations. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) we investigated whether spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics can predict a listener's benefit of iconic gestures during language comprehension in both internally (non-native versus native listeners) and externally (clear/degraded speech) induced adverse listening conditions. Proficient non-native speakers of Dutch were presented with videos in which an actress uttered a degraded or clear verb, accompanied by a gesture or not, and completed a cued-recall task after every video. The behavioral and oscillatory results obtained from non-native listeners were compared to an MEG study where we presented the same stimuli to native listeners (Drijvers et al., 2018a). Non-native listeners demonstrated a similar gestural enhancement effect as native listeners, but overall scored significantly slower on the cued-recall task. In both native and non-native listeners, an alpha/beta power suppression revealed engagement of the extended language network, motor and visual regions during gestural enhancement of degraded speech comprehension, suggesting similar core processes that support unification and lexical access processes. An individual's alpha/beta power modulation predicted the gestural benefit a listener experienced during degraded speech comprehension. Importantly, however, non-native listeners showed less engagement of the mouth area of the primary somatosensory cortex, left insula (beta), LIFG and ATL (alpha) than native listeners, which suggests that non-native listeners might be hindered in processing the degraded phonological cues and coupling them to the semantic information conveyed by the gesture. Native and non-native listeners thus demonstrated similar yet distinct spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics when recruiting visual cues to disambiguate degraded speech.
Susanne Eisenhauer; Christian J. Fiebach; Benjamin Gagl
In: eNeuro, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1–25, 2019.
Word familiarity and predictive context facilitate visual word processing, leading to faster recognition times and reduced neuronal responses. Previously, models with and without top-down connections, including lexical-semantic, pre-lexical (e.g., orthographic/phonological), and visual processing levels were successful in accounting for these facilitation effects. Here we systematically assessed context-based facilitation with a repetition priming task and explicitly dissociated pre-lexical and lexical processing levels using a pseudoword (PW) familiarization procedure. Experiment 1 investigated the temporal dynamics of neuronal facilitation effects with magnetoencephalography (MEG; N = 38 human participants), while experiment 2 assessed behavioral facilitation effects (N = 24 human participants). Across all stimulus conditions, MEG demonstrated context-based facilitation across multiple time windows starting at 100 ms, in occipital brain areas. This finding indicates context-based facilitation at an early visual processing level. In both experiments, we furthermore found an interaction of context and lexical familiarity, such that stimuli with associated meaning showed the strongest context-dependent facilitation in brain activation and behavior. Using MEG, this facilitation effect could be localized to the left anterior temporal lobe at around 400 ms, indicating within-level (i.e., exclusively lexical-semantic) facilitation but no top-down effects on earlier processing stages. Increased pre-lexical familiarity (in PWs familiarized utilizing training) did not enhance or reduce context effects significantly. We conclude that context-based facilitation is achieved within visual and lexical processing levels. Finally, by testing alternative hypotheses derived from mechanistic accounts of repetition suppression, we suggest that the facilitatory context effects found here are implemented using a predictive coding mechanism.
Matthew W. Flounders; Carlos González-García; Richard Hardstone; Biyu J. He
In: eLife, vol. 8, pp. 1–25, 2019.
Past experiences have enormous power in shaping our daily perception. Currently, dynamical neural mechanisms underlying this process remain mysterious. Exploiting a dramatic visual phenomenon, where a single experience of viewing a clear image allows instant recognition of a related degraded image, we investigated this question using MEG and 7 Tesla fMRI in humans. We observed that following the acquisition of perceptual priors, different degraded images are represented much more distinctly in neural dynamics starting from $sim$500 ms after stimulus onset. Content-specific neural activity related to stimulus-feature processing dominated within 300 ms after stimulus onset, while content-specific neural activity related to recognition processing dominated from 500 ms onward. Model-driven MEG-fMRI data fusion revealed the spatiotemporal evolution of neural activities involved in stimulus, attentional, and recognition processing. Together, these findings shed light on how experience shapes perceptual processing across space and time in the brain.
Christoph Helmchen; Matthias Rother; Andreas Sprenger
In: NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 24, pp. 101942, 2019.
In this event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study we investigated how the brain of patients with bilateral vestibular failure (BVF) responds to vestibular stimuli. We used imperceptible noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) and perceptible bi-mastoidal GVS intensities and related the corresponding brain activity to the evoked motion perception. In contrast to caloric irrigation, GVS stimulates the vestibular organ at its potentially intact afferent nerve site. Motion perception thresholds and cortical responses were compared between 26 BVF patients to 27 age-matched healthy control participants. To identify the specificity of vestibular cortical responses we used a parametric design with different stimulus intensities (noisy imperceptible, low perceptible, high perceptible) allowing region-specific stimulus response functions. In a 2 × 3 flexible factorial design all GVS-related brain activities were contrasted with a sham condition that did not evoke perceived motion. Patients had a higher motion perception threshold and rated the vestibular stimuli higher than the healthy participants. There was a stimulus intensity related and region-specific increase of activity with steep stimulus response functions in parietal operculum (e.g. OP2), insula, superior temporal gyrus, early visual cortices (V3) and cerebellum while activity in the hippocampus and intraparietal sulcus did not correlate with vestibular stimulus intensity. Using whole brain analysis, group comparisons revealed increased brain activity in early visual cortices (V3) and superior temporal gyrus of patients but there was no significant interaction, i.e. stimulus response function in these regions were still similar in both groups. Brain activity in these regions during (high)GVS increased with higher dizziness-related handicap scores but was not related to the degree of vestibular impairment or disease duration. nGVS did not evoke cortical responses in any group. Our data indicate that perceptible GVS-related cortical responsivity is not diminished but increased in mul-tisensory (visual-vestibular) cortical regions despite bilateral failure of the peripheral vestibular organ. The increased activity in early visual cortices (V3) and superior temporal gyrus of BVF patients has several potential implications: (i) their cortical reciprocal inhibitory visuo-vestibular interaction is dysfunctional, (ii) it may contribute to the visual dependency of BVF patients, and (iii) it needs to be considered when BVF patients receive peripheral vestibular stimulation devices, e.g. vestibular implants or portable GVS devices. Imperceptible nGVS did not elicit cortical brain responses making it unlikely that the reported balance improvement of BVF by nGVS is mediated by cortical mechanisms.
Linda Henriksson; Marieke Mur; Nikolaus Kriegeskorte
Rapid invariant encoding of scene layout in human OPA Journal Article
In: Neuron, vol. 103, no. 1, pp. 161–171.e3, 2019.
Successful visual navigation requires a sense of the geometry of the local environment. How do our brains extract this information from retinal images? Here we visually presented scenes with all possible combinations of five scene-bounding elements (left, right, and back walls; ceiling; floor) to human subjects during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). The fMRI response patterns in the scene-responsive occipital place area (OPA) reflected scene layout with invariance to changes in surface texture. This result contrasted sharply with the primary visual cortex (V1), which reflected low-level image features of the stimuli, and the parahippocampal place area (PPA), which showed better texture than layout decoding. MEG indicated that the texture-invariant scene layout representation is computed from visual input within ∼100 ms, suggesting a rapid computational mechanism. Taken together, these results suggest that the cortical representation underlying our instant sense of the environmental geometry is located in the OPA.
Anna E. Hughes; John A. Greenwood; Nonie J. Finlayson; D. Samuel Schwarzkopf
Population receptive field estimates for motion-defined stimuli Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 199, pp. 245–260, 2019.
The processing of motion changes throughout the visual hierarchy, from spatially restricted ‘local motion' in early visual cortex to more complex large-field ‘global motion' at later stages. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine spatially selective responses in these areas related to the processing of random-dot stimuli defined by differences in motion. We used population receptive field (pRF) analyses to map retinotopic cortex using bar stimuli comprising coherently moving dots. In the first experiment, we used three separate background conditions: no background dots (dot-defined bar-only), dots moving coherently in the opposite direction to the bar (kinetic boundary) and dots moving incoherently in random directions (global motion). Clear retinotopic maps were obtained for the bar-only and kinetic-boundary conditions across visual areas V1–V3 and in higher dorsal areas. For the global-motion condition, retinotopic maps were much weaker in early areas and became clear only in higher areas, consistent with the emergence of global-motion processing throughout the visual hierarchy. However, in a second experiment we demonstrate that this pattern is not specific to motion-defined stimuli, with very similar results for a transparent-motion stimulus and a bar defined by a static low-level property (dot size) that should have driven responses particularly in V1. We further exclude explanations based on stimulus visibility by demonstrating that the observed differences in pRF properties do not follow the ability of observers to localise or attend to these bar elements. Rather, our findings indicate that dorsal extrastriate retinotopic maps may primarily be determined by the visibility of the neural responses to the bar relative to the background response (i.e. neural signal-to-noise ratios) and suggests that claims about stimulus selectivity from pRF experiments must be interpreted with caution.
Andreas Jarvstad; Iain D. Gilchrist
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 39, no. 13, pp. 2497–2508, 2019.
The ability to select the task-relevant stimulus for a saccadic eye movement, while inhibiting saccades to task-irrelevant stimuli, is crucial for active vision. Here, we present a novel saccade-contingent behavioral paradigm and investigate the neural basis of the central cognitive functions underpinning such behavior, saccade selection, saccade inhibition, and saccadic choice, in female and male human participants. The paradigm allows for exceptionally well-matched contrasts, with task demands formalized with stochastic accumulation-to-threshold models. Using fMRI, we replicated the core cortical eye-movement network for saccade generation (frontal eye fields, posterior parietal cortex, and higher-level visual areas). However, in contrast to previously published tasks, saccadic selection and inhibition recruited only this core network. Brain-behavior analyses further showed that inhibition efficiency may be underpinned by white-matter integrity of tracts between key saccade-generating regions, and that inhibition efficiency is associated with right inferior frontal gyrus engagement, potentially implementing general-purpose inhibition. The core network, however, was insufficient for saccadic choice, which recruited anterior regions commonly attributed to saccadic action selection, including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. Jointly, the results indicate that extra-saccadic activity observed for free choice, and in previously published tasks probing saccadic control, is likely due to increased load on higher-level cognitive processes, and not saccadic selection per se, which is achieved within the canonical cortical eye movement network.
Philip A. Kragel; Marianne C. Reddan; Kevin S. LaBar; Tor D. Wager
Emotion schemas are embedded in the human visual system Journal Article
In: Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 7, pp. eaaw4358, 2019.
Theorists have suggested that emotions are canonical responses to situations ancestrally linked to survival. If so, then emotions may be afforded by features of the sensory environment. However, few computational models describe how combinations of stimulus features evoke different emotions. Here, we develop a convolutional neural network that accurately decodes images into 11 distinct emotion categories. We validate the model using more than 25,000 images and movies and show that image content is sufficient to predict the category and valence of human emotion ratings. In two functional magnetic resonance imaging studies, we demonstrate that patterns of human visual cortex activity encode emotion category–related model output and can decode multiple categories of emotional experience. These results suggest that rich, category-specific visual features can be reliably mapped to distinct emotions, and they are coded in distributed representations within the human visual system.
Milosz Krala; Bianca Kemenade; Benjamin Straube; Tilo Kircher; Frank Bremmer
In: Journal of vision, vol. 19, no. 11, pp. 1–15, 2019.
During self-motion through an environment, our sensory systems are confronted with a constant flow of information from different modalities. To successfully navigate, self-induced sensory signals have to be dissociated from externally induced sensory signals. Previous studies have suggested that the processing of self-induced sensory information is modulated by means of predictive coding mechanisms. However, the neural correlates of processing self-induced sensory information from different modalities during self-motion are largely unknown. Here, we asked if and how the processing of visually simulated self-motion and/or associated auditory stimuli is modulated by self-controlled action. Participants were asked to actively reproduce a previously observed simulated self-displacement (path integration). Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activation during this path integration was compared with BOLD activation during a condition in which we passively replayed the exact sensory stimulus that had been produced by the participants in previous trials. We found supramodal BOLD suppression in parietal and frontal regions. Remarkably, BOLD contrast in sensory areas was enhanced in a modality-specific manner. We conclude that the effect of action on sensory processing is strictly dependent on the respective behavioral task and its relevance.
Satwant Kumar; Ivo D. Popivanov; Rufin Vogels
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 215–229, 2019.
Although the neural processing of visual images of bodies is critical for survival, it is much less well understood than face processing. Functional imaging studies demonstrated body selective regions in primate inferior temporal cortex. To advance our understanding of how the visual brain represents bodies, we compared the representation of animate and inanimate objects in two such body patches with fMRI-guided single unit recordings in rhesus monkeys. We found that the middle Superior Temporal Sulcus body patch (MSB) distinguishes to a greater extent bodies from non-bodies than the anterior Superior Temporal Sulcus body patch (ASB). Importantly, ASB carried more viewpoint-tolerant information about body posture and body identity than MSB, while MSB showed greater orientation selectivity. Combined with previous work on faces, this suggests that an increase in view-tolerant representations, coupled with a refined individuation, along the visual hierarchy is a general property of information processing within the inferior temporal cortex.
Hai Lin; Wei Ping Li; Synnöve Carlson
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 13, pp. 2, 2019.
Top-down modulation is engaged during multiple stages of working memory (WM), including expectation, encoding, and maintenance. During WM maintenance period, an “incidental cue” can bring one of the two items into a privileged state and make the privileged item be recalled with higher precision, despite being irrelevant to which one to be probed as the target. With regard to the different representational states of WM, it's unclear whether there is top-down modulation on earth sensory cortical areas. Here, We used this behavioral paradigm of “incidental cue” and event-related fMRI to investigate whether there were a privileged WM state and top-down modulation for complex stimuli including faces and natural scenes. We found that faces, not scenes, could enter into the privileged state with improved accuracy and response time of WM task. Meanwhile, cue-driven baseline activity shifts in fusiform face area (FFA) were identified by univariate analysis in the recognition of privileged faces, compared to that of non-privileged ones. In addition, the functional connectivity between FFA and right inferior frontal junction (IFJ), middle frontal gyrus (MFG), inferior frontal gyrus, right intraparietal sulcus (IPS), right precuneus and supplementary motor area was significantly enhanced, corresponding to the improved WM performance. Moreover, FFA connectivity with IFJ and IPS could predict WM improvements. These findings indicated that privileged WM state and potential top-down modulation existed for faces, but not scenes, during WM maintenance period.
Sahil Luthra; Sara Guediche; Sheila E. Blumstein; Emily B. Myers
In: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 151–169, 2019.
In spoken word recognition, subphonemic variation influences lexical activation, with sounds near a category boundary increasing phonetic competition as well as lexical competition. The current study investigated the interplay of these factors using a visual world task in which participants were instructed to look at a picture of an auditory target (e.g. peacock). Eyetracking data indicated that participants were slowed when a voiced onset competitor (e.g. beaker) was also displayed, and this effect was amplified when acoustic-phonetic competition was increased. Simultaneously-collected fMRI data showed that several brain regions were sensitive to the presence of the onset competitor, including the supramarginal, middle temporal, and inferior frontal gyri, and functional connectivity analyses revealed that the coordinated activity of left frontal regions depends on both acoustic-phonetic and lexical factors. Taken together, results suggest a role for frontal brain structures in resolving lexical competition, particularly as atypical acoustic-phonetic information maps on to the lexicon.