Dominik R. Bach; Nicholas Furl; Gareth Barnes; Raymond J. Dolan
Sustained magnetic responses in temporal cortex reflect instantaneous significance of approaching and receding sounds Journal Article
In: PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 7, pp. e0134060, 2015.
Rising sound intensity often signals an approaching sound source and can serve as a powerful warning cue, eliciting phasic attention, perception biases and emotional responses. How the evaluation of approaching sounds unfolds over time remains elusive. Here, we capitalised on the temporal resolution of magnetoencephalograpy (MEG) to investigate in humans a dynamic encoding of perceiving approaching and receding sounds. We compared magnetic responses to intensity envelopes of complex sounds to those of white noise sounds, in which intensity change is not perceived as approaching. Sustained magnetic fields over temporal sensors tracked intensity change in complex sounds in an approximately linear fashion, an effect not seen for intensity change in white noise sounds, or for overall intensity. Hence, these fields are likely to track approach/recession, but not the apparent (instantaneous) distance of the sound source, or its intensity as such. As a likely source of this activity, the bilateral inferior temporal gyrus and right temporo-parietal junction emerged. Our results indicate that discrete temporal cortical areas parametrically encode behavioural significance in moving sound sources where the signal unfolded in a manner reminiscent of evidence accumulation. This may help an understanding of how acoustic percepts are evaluated as behaviourally relevant, where our results highlight a crucial role of cortical areas.
Mithun Diwakar; Deborah L. Harrington; Jun Maruta; Jamshid Ghajar; Fady El-Gabalawy; Laura Muzzatti; Maurizio Corbetta; Ming-Xiong X. Huang; Roland R. Lee
Filling in the gaps: Anticipatory control of eye movements in chronic mild traumatic brain injury Journal Article
In: NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 8, pp. 210–223, 2015.
A barrier in the diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) stems from the lack of measures that are adequately sensitive in detecting mild head injuries. MRI and CT are typically negative in mTBI patients with persistent symptoms of post-concussive syndrome (PCS), and characteristic difficulties in sustaining attention often go undetected on neuropsychological testing, which can be insensitive to momentary lapses in concentration. Conversely, visual tracking strongly depends on sustained attention over time and is impaired in chronic mTBI patients, especially when tracking an occluded target. This finding suggests deficient internal anticipatory control in mTBI, the neural underpinnings of which are poorly understood. The present study investigated the neuronal bases for deficient anticipatory control during visual tracking in 25 chronic mTBI patients with persistent PCS symptoms and 25 healthy control subjects. The task was performed while undergoing magnetoencephalography (MEG), which allowed us to examine whether neural dysfunction associated with anticipatory control deficits was due to altered alpha, beta, and/or gamma activity. Neuropsychological examinations characterized cognition in both groups. During MEG recordings, subjects tracked a predictably moving target that was either continuously visible or randomly occluded (gap condition). MEG source-imaging analyses tested for group differences in alpha, beta, and gamma frequency bands. The results showed executive functioning, information processing speed, and verbal memory deficits in the mTBI group. Visual tracking was impaired in the mTBI group only in the gap condition. Patients showed greater error than controls before and during target occlusion, and were slower to resynchronize with the target when it reappeared. Impaired tracking concurred with abnormal beta activity, which was suppressed in the parietal cortex, especially the right hemisphere, and enhanced in left caudate and frontaloral areas. Regional beta-amplitude demonstrated high classification accuracy (92%) compared to eye-tracking (65%) and neuropsychological variables (80%). These findings show that deficient internal anticipatory control in mTBI is associated with altered beta activity, which is remarkably sensitive given the heterogeneity of injuries.
Wei He; Jon Brock; Blake W. Johnson
Face processing in the brains of pre-school aged children measured with MEG Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 106, pp. 317–327, 2015.
There are two competing theories concerning the development of face perception: a late maturation account and an early maturation account. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) neuroimaging holds promise for adjudicating between the two opposing accounts by providing objective neurophysiological measures of face processing, with sufficient temporal resolution to isolate face-specific brain responses from those associated with other sensory, cognitive and motor processes. The current study used a customized child MEG system to measure M100 and M170 brain responses in 15 children aged three to six years while they viewed faces, cars and their phase-scrambled counterparts. Compared to adults tested using the same stimuli in a conventional MEG system, children showed significantly larger and later M100 responses. Children's M170 responses, derived by subtracting the responses to phase-scrambled images from the corresponding images (faces or cars) were delayed in latency but otherwise resembled the adult M170. This component has not been obtained in previous studies of young children tested using conventional adult MEG systems. However children did show a markedly reduced M170 response to cars in comparison to adults. This may reflect children's lack of expertise with cars relative to faces. Taken together, these data are in accord with recent behavioural and neuroimaging data that support early maturation of the basic face processing functions.
Wei He; Marta I. Garrido; Paul F. Sowman; Jon Brock; Blake W. Johnson
Development of effective connectivity in the core network for face perception Journal Article
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 2161–2173, 2015.
This study measured effective connectivity within the core face network in young children using a paediatric magnetoencephalograph (MEG). Dynamic casual modeling (DCM) of brain responses was performed in a group of adults (N = 14) and a group of young children aged from 3 to 6 years (N = 15). Three candidate DCM models were tested, and the fits of the MEG data to the three models were compared at both individual and group levels. The results show that the connectivity structure of the core face network differs significantly between adults and children. Further, the relative strengths of face network connections were differentially modulated by experimental conditions in the two groups. These results support the interpretation that the core face network undergoes significant structural configuration and functional specialization between four years of age and adulthood.
Jörn M. Horschig; Wouter Oosterheert; Robert Oostenveld; Ole Jensen
Modulation of posterior alpha activity by spatial attention allows for controlling a continuous brain–computer interface Journal Article
In: Brain Topography, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 852–864, 2015.
Here we report that the modulation of alpha activity by covert attention can be used as a control signal in an online brain-computer interface, that it is reliable, and that it is robust. Subjects were instructed to orient covert visual attention to the left or right hemifield. We decoded the direction of attention from the magnetoencephalogram by a template matching classifier and provided the classification outcome to the subject in real-time using a novel graphical user interface. Training data for the templates were obtained from a Posner-cueing task conducted just before the BCI task. Eleven subjects participated in four sessions each. Eight of the subjects achieved classification rates significantly above chance level. Subjects were able to significantly increase their performance from the first to the second session. Individual patterns of posterior alpha power remained stable throughout the four sessions and did not change with increased performance. We conclude that posterior alpha power can successfully be used as a control signal in brain-computer interfaces. We also discuss several ideas for further improving the setup and propose future research based on solid hypotheses about behavioral consequences of modulating neuronal oscillations by brain computer interfacing.
Jukka Pekka Kauppi; Melih Kandemir; Veli Matti Saarinen; Lotta Hirvenkari; Lauri Parkkonen; Arto Klami; Riitta Hari; Samuel Kaski
Towards brain-activity-controlled information retrieval: Decoding image relevance from MEG signals Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 112, pp. 288–298, 2015.
We hypothesize that brain activity can be used to control future information retrieval systems. To this end, we conducted a feasibility study on predicting the relevance of visual objects from brain activity. We analyze both magnetoencephalographic (MEG) and gaze signals from nine subjects who were viewing image collages, a subset of which was relevant to a predetermined task. We report three findings: i) the relevance of an image a subject looks at can be decoded from MEG signals with performance significantly better than chance, ii) fusion of gaze-based and MEG-based classifiers significantly improves the prediction performance compared to using either signal alone, and iii) non-linear classification of the MEG signals using Gaussian process classifiers outperforms linear classification. These findings break new ground for building brain-activity-based interactive image retrieval systems, as well as for systems utilizing feedback both from brain activity and eye movements.
Niels A. Kloosterman; Thomas Meindertsma; Arjan Hillebrand; Bob W. Dijk; Victor A. F. Lamme; Tobias H. Donner
Top-down modulation in human visual cortex predicts the stability of a perceptual illusion Journal Article
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 113, no. 4, pp. 1063–1076, 2015.
Conscious perception sometimes fluctuates strongly, even when the sensory input is constant. For example, in motion-induced blindness (MIB), a salient visual target surrounded by a moving pattern suddenly disappears from perception, only to reappear after some variable time. Whereas such changes of perception result from fluctuations of neural activity, mounting evidence suggests that the perceptual changes, in turn, may also cause modulations of activity in several brain areas, including visual cortex. In this study, we asked whether these latter modulations might affect the subsequent dynamics of perception. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure modulations in cortical population activity during MIB. We observed a transient, retinotopically widespread modulation of beta (12-30 Hz)-frequency power over visual cortex that was closely linked to the time of subjects' behavioral report of the target disappearance. This beta modulation was a top-down signal, decoupled from both the physical stimulus properties and the motor response but contingent on the behavioral relevance of the perceptual change. Critically, the modulation amplitude predicted the duration of the subsequent target disappearance. We propose that the transformation of the perceptual change into a report triggers a top-down mechanism that stabilizes the newly selected perceptual interpretation.
Kimberly Leiken; Brian McElree; Liina Pylkkänen
Filling predictable and unpredictable gaps, with and without similarity-based interference: Evidence for LIFG effects of dependency processing Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6, pp. 1739, 2015.
One of the most replicated findings in neurolinguistic literature on syntax is the increase of hemodynamic activity in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) in response to object relative (OR) clauses compared to subject relative clauses. However, behavioral studies have shown that ORs are primarily only costly when similarity-based interference is involved and recently, Leiken and Pylkkänen (2014) showed with magnetoencephalography (MEG) that an LIFG increase at an OR gap is also dependent on such interference. However, since ORs always involve a cue indicating an upcoming dependency formation, OR dependencies could be processed already prior to the gap-site and thus show no sheer dependency effects at the gap itself. To investigate the role of gap predictability in LIFG dependency effects, this MEG study compared ORs to verb phrase ellipsis (VPE), which was used as an example of a non-predictable dependency. Additionally, we explored LIFG sensitivity to filler-gap order by including right node raising structures, in which the order of filler and gap is reverse to that of ORs and VPE. Half of the stimuli invoked similarity-based interference and half did not. Our results demonstrate that LIFG effects of dependency can be elicited regardless of whether the dependency is predictable, the stimulus materials evoke similarity-based interference, or the filler precedes the gap. Thus, contrary to our own prior data, the current findings suggest a highly general role for the LIFG in dependency interpretation that is not limited to environments involving similarity-based interference. Additionally, the millisecond time-resolution of MEG allowed for a detailed characterization of the temporal profiles of LIFG dependency effects across our three constructions, revealing that the timing of these effects is somewhat construction-specific.
Anne Mandel; Siiri Helokunnas; Elina Pihko; Riitta Hari
Brain responds to another person's eye blinks in a natural setting-the more empathetic the viewer the stronger the responses Journal Article
In: European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 42, no. 8, pp. 2508–2514, 2015.
An observer's brain is known to respond to another person's small nonverbal signals, such as gaze shifts and eye blinks. Here we aimed to find out how an observer's brain reacts to a speaker's eye blinks in the presence of other audiovisual information. Magnetoencephalographic brain responses along with eye gaze were recorded from 13 adults who watched a video of a person telling a story. The video was presented first without sound (visual), then with sound (audiovisual), and finally the audio story was presented with a still-frame picture on the screen (audio control). The viewers mainly gazed at the eye region of the speaker. Their saccades were suppressed at about 180 ms after the start of the speaker's blinks, a subsequent increase of saccade occurence to the base level, or higher, at around 340 ms. The suppression occurred in visual and audiovisual conditions but not during the control audio presentation. Prominent brain responses to blinks peaked in the viewer's occipital cortex at about 250 ms, with no differences in mean peak amplitudes or latencies between visual and audiovisual conditions. During the audiovisual, but not visual-only, presentation, the responses were the stronger the more empathetic the subject was according to the Empathic Concern score of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index questionnaire (Spearman's rank correlation, 0.73). The other person's eye blinks, nonverbal signs that often go unnoticed, thus elicited clear brain responses even in the presence of attention-attracting audiovisual information from the narrative, with stronger responses in people with higher empathy scores.
Svenja Marx; Wolfgang Einhäuser
Reward modulates perception in binocular rivalry Journal Article
In: Journal of Vision, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 1–13, 2015.
Our perception does not provide us with an exact imprint of the outside world, but is continuously adapted to our internal expectations, task sets, and behavioral goals. Although effects of reward—or value in general—on perception therefore seem likely, how valuation modulates perception and how such modulation relates to attention is largely unknown. We probed effects of reward on perception by using a binocular-rivalry paradigm. Distinct gratings drifting in opposite directions were presented to each observer's eyes. To objectify their subjective perceptual experience, the optokinetic nystagmus was used as measure of current perceptual dominance. In a first experiment, one of the percepts was either rewarded or attended. We found that reward and attention similarly biased perception. In a second experiment, observers performed an attentionally demanding task either on the rewarded stimulus, the other stimulus, or both. We found that—on top of an attentional effect on perception—at each level of attentional load, reward still modulated perception by increasing the dominance of the rewarded percept. Similarly, penalizing one percept increased dominance of the other at each level of attentional load. In turn, rewarding—and similarly nonpunishing—a percept yielded performance benefits that are typically associated with selective attention. In conclusion, our data show that value modulates perception in a similar way as the volitional deployment of attention, even though the relative effect of value is largely unaffected by an attention task.
Nicholas E. Myers; Gustavo Rohenkohl; Valentin Wyart; Mark W. Woolrich; Anna C. Nobre; Mark G. Stokes
Testing sensory evidence against mnemonic templates Journal Article
In: eLife, vol. 4, pp. 1–25, 2015.
Most perceptual decisions require comparisons between current input and an internal template. Classic studies propose that templates are encoded in sustained activity of sensory neurons. However, stimulus encoding is itself dynamic, tracing a complex trajectory through activity space. Which part of this trajectory is pre-activated to reflect the template? Here we recorded magneto- and electroencephalography during a visual target-detection task, and used pattern analyses to decode template, stimulus, and decision-variable representation. Our findings ran counter to the dominant model of sustained pre-activation. Instead, template information emerged transiently around stimulus onset and quickly subsided. Cross-generalization between stimulus and template coding, indicating a shared neural representation, occurred only briefly. Our results are compatible with the proposal that template representation relies on a matched filter, transforming input into task-appropriate output. This proposal was consistent with a signed difference response at the perceptual decision stage, which can be explained by a simple neural model.
Yuka O. Okazaki; Jörn M. Horschig; Lisa Luther; Robert Oostenveld; Ikuya Murakami; Ole Jensen
Real-time MEG neurofeedback training of posterior alpha activity modulates subsequent visual detection performance Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 107, pp. 323–332, 2015.
It has been demonstrated that alpha activity is lateralized when attention is directed to the left or right visual hemifield. We investigated whether real-time neurofeedback training of the alpha lateralization enhances participants' ability to modulate posterior alpha lateralization and causes subsequent short-term changes in visual detection performance. The experiment consisted of three phases: (i) pre-training assessment, (ii) neurofeedback phase and (iii) post-training assessment. In the pre- and post-training phases we measured the threshold to covertly detect a cued faint Gabor stimulus presented in the left or right hemifield. During magnetoencephalography (MEG) neurofeedback, two face stimuli superimposed with noise were presented bilaterally. Participants were cued to attend to one of the hemifields. The transparency of the superimposed noise and thus the visibility of the stimuli were varied according to the momentary degree of hemispheric alpha lateralization. In a double-blind procedure half of the participants were provided with sham feedback. We found that hemispheric alpha lateralization increased with the neurofeedback training; this was mainly driven by an ipsilateral alpha increase. Surprisingly, comparing pre- to post-training, detection performance decreased for a Gabor stimulus presented in the hemifield that was un-attended during neurofeedback. This effect was not observed in the sham group. Thus, neurofeedback training alters alpha lateralization, which in turn decreases performances in the untrained hemifield. Our findings suggest that alpha oscillations play a causal role for the allocation of attention. Furthermore, our neurofeedback protocol serves to reduce the detection of unattended visual information and could therefore be of potential use for training to reduce distractibility in attention deficit patients, but also highlights that neurofeedback paradigms can have negative impact on behavioral performance and should be applied with caution.
Rasmus Aamand; Yi-Ching Lynn Ho; Thomas Dalsgaard; Andreas Roepstorff; Torben E. Lund
Dietary nitrate facilitates an acetazolamide-induced increase in cerebral blood flow during visual stimulation Journal Article
In: Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 116, no. 3, pp. 267–273, 2014.
The carbonic anhydrase (CA) inhibitor acetazolamide (AZ) is used routinely to estimate cerebrovascular reserve capacity in patients, as it reliably increases cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, the mechanism by which AZ accomplishes this CBF increase is not entirely understood. We recently discovered that CA can produce nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite, and that AZ enhances this NO production in vitro. In fact, this interaction between AZ and CA accounted for a large part of AZ's vasodilatory action, which fits well with the known vasodilatory potency of NO. The present study aimed to assess whether AZ acts similarly in vivo in the human cerebrovascular system. Hence, we increased or minimized the dietary intake of nitrate in 20 healthy male participants, showed them a full-field flickering dartboard, and measured their CBF response to this visual stimulus with arterial spin labeling. Doing so, we found a significant positive interaction between the dietary intake of nitrate and the CBF modulation afforded by AZ during visual stimulation. In addition, but contrary to studies conducted in elderly participants, we report no effect of nitrate intake on resting CBF in healthy human participants. The present study provides in vivo support for an enhancing effect of AZ on the NO production from nitrite catalyzed by CA in the cerebrovascular system. Furthermore, our results, in combination with the results of other groups, indicate that nitrate may have significant importance to vascular function when the cerebrovascular system is challenged by age or disease.
D. A. Barany; V. Della-Maggiore; Shivakumar Viswanathan; M. Cieslak; Scott T. Grafton
Feature Iinteractions enable decoding of sensorimotor transformations for goal-directed movement Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 20, pp. 6860–6873, 2014.
Neurophysiology and neuroimaging evidence shows that the brain represents multiple environmental and body-related features to compute transformations from sensory input to motor output. However, it is unclear how these features interact during goal-directed movement. To investigate this issue, we examined the representations of sensory and motor features of human hand movements within the left-hemisphere motor network. In a rapid event-related fMRI design, we measured cortical activity as participants performed right-handed movements at the wrist, with either of two postures and two amplitudes, to move a cursor to targets at different locations. Using a multivoxel analysis technique with rigorous generalization tests, we reliably distinguished representations of task-related features (primarily target location, movement direction, and posture) in multiple regions. In particular, we identified an interaction between target location and movement direction in the superior parietal lobule, which may underlie a transformation from the location of the target in space to a movement vector. In addition, we found an influence of posture on primary motor, premotor, and parietal regions. Together, these results reveal the complex interactions between different sensory and motor features that drive the computation of sensorimotor transformations.
D. J. Bridge; Joel L. Voss
Hippocampal binding of novel information with dominant memory traces can support both memory stability and change Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 2203–2213, 2014.
Memory stability and change are considered opposite outcomes. We tested the counterintuitive notion that both depend on one process: hippocampal binding of memory features to associatively novel information, or associative novelty binding (ANB). Building on the idea that dominant memory features, or “traces,” are most susceptible to modification, we hypothesized that ANB would selectively involve dominant traces. Therefore, memory stability versus change should depend on whether the currently dominant trace is old versus updated; in either case, novel information will be bound with it, causing either maintenance (when old) or change (when updated). People in our experiment studied objects at locations within scenes (contexts). During reactivation in a new context, subjects moved studied objects to new locations either via active location recall or by passively dragging objects to predetermined locations. After active reactivation, the new object location became dominant in memory, whereas after passive reactivation, the old object location maintained dominance. In both cases, hippocampal ANB bound the currently dominant object-location memory with a context with which it was not paired previously (i.e., associatively novel). Stability occurred in the passive condition when ANB united the dominant original location trace with an associatively novel newer context. Change occurred in the active condition when ANB united the dominant updated object location with an associatively novel and older context. Hippocampal ANB of the currently dominant trace with associatively novel contextual information thus provides a single mechanism to support memory stability and change, with shifts in trace dominance during reactivation dictating the outcome.
Wonil Choi; Rutvik H. Desai; John M. Henderson
The neural substrates of natural reading: A comparison of normal and nonword text using eyetracking and fMRI Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 8, pp. 1024, 2014.
Most previous studies investigating the neural correlates of reading have presented text using serial visual presentation (SVP), which may not fully reflect the underlying processes of natural reading. In the present study, eye movements and BOLD data were collected while subjects either read normal paragraphs naturally or moved their eyes through "paragraphs" of pseudo-text (pronounceable pseudowords or consonant letter strings) in two pseudo-reading conditions. Eye movement data established that subjects were reading and scanning the stimuli normally. A conjunction fMRI analysis across natural- and pseudo-reading showed that a common eye-movement network including frontal eye fields (FEF), supplementary eye fields (SEF), and intraparietal sulci was activated, consistent with previous studies using simpler eye movement tasks. In addition, natural reading versus pseudo-reading showed different patterns of brain activation: normal reading produced activation in a well-established language network that included superior temporal gyrus/sulcus, middle temporal gyrus (MTG), angular gyrus (AG), inferior frontal gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus, whereas pseudo-reading produced activation in an attentional network that included anterior/posterior cingulate and parietal cortex. These results are consistent with results found in previous single-saccade eye movement tasks and SVP reading studies, suggesting that component processes of eye-movement control and language processing observed in past fMRI research generalize to natural reading. The results also suggest that combining eyetracking and fMRI is a suitable method for investigating the component processes of natural reading in fMRI research.
John M. Henderson; Wonil Choi; Steven G. Luke
Morphology of primary visual cortex predicts individual differences in fixation duration during text reading Journal Article
In: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 26, no. 12, pp. 2880–2888, 2014.
In skilled reading, fixations are brief periods of time in which the eyes settle on words. E-Z Reader, a computational model of dynamic reading, posits that fixation durations are under realtime control of lexical processing. Lexical processing, in turn, requires efficient visual encoding. Here we tested the hypothesis that individual differences in fixation durations are related to individual differences in the efficiency of early visual encoding. To test this hypothesis, we recorded participantsʼ eye movements during reading. We then examined individual differences in fixation duration distributions as a function of individual differences in the morphology of primary visual cortex measured from MRI scans. The results showed that greater gray matter surface area and volume in visual cortex predicted shorter and less variable fixation durations in reading. These results suggest that individual differences in eye movements during skilled reading are related to initial visual encoding, consistent with models such as E-Z Reader that emphasize lexical control over fixation time.
Nora A. Herweg; Bernd Weber; Anna-Maria Kasparbauer; Inga Meyhöfer; Maria Steffens; Nikolaos Smyrnis; Ulrich Ettinger
Functional magnetic resonance imaging of sensorimotor transformations in saccades and antisaccades Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 102, pp. 848–860, 2014.
Saccades to peripheral targets require a direct visuomotor transformation. In contrast, antisaccades, saccades in opposite direction of a peripheral target, require more complex transformation processes due to the inversion of the spatial vector. Here, the differential neural mechanisms underlying sensorimotor control in saccades and antisaccades were investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3. T field strength in 22 human volunteers. We combined a task factor (prosaccades: look towards target; antisaccades: look away from target) with a parametric factor of transformation demand (single vs. multiple peripheral targets) in a two-factorial block design. Behaviorally, a greater number of peripheral targets resulted in decreased spatial accuracy and increased reaction times in antisaccades. No effects were seen on the percentage of antisaccade direction errors or on any prosaccade measures. Neurally, a greater number of targets led to increased BOLD signal in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) bilaterally. This effect was partially qualified by an interaction that extended into somatosensory cortex, indicating greater increases during antisaccades than prosaccades. The results implicate the PPC as a sensorimotor interface that is especially important in nonstandard mapping for antisaccades and point to a supportive role of somatosensory areas in antisaccade sensorimotor control, possibly by means of proprioceptive processes.
Juha M. Lahnakoski; Enrico Glerean; Iiro P. Jääskeläinen; Jukka Hyönä; Riitta Hari; Mikko Sams; Lauri Nummenmaa
Synchronous brain activity across individuals underlies shared psychological perspectives Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 100, pp. 316–324, 2014.
For successful communication, we need to understand the external world consistently with others. This task requires sufficiently similar cognitive schemas or psychological perspectives that act as filters to guide the selection, interpretation and storage of sensory information, perceptual objects and events. Here we show that when individuals adopt a similar psychological perspective during natural viewing, their brain activity becomes synchronized in specific brain regions. We measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) from 33 healthy participants who viewed a 10-min movie twice, assuming once a 'social' (detective) and once a 'non-social' (interior decorator) perspective to the movie events. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to derive multisubject voxelwise similarity measures (inter-subject correlations; ISCs) of functional MRI data. We used k-nearest-neighbor and support vector machine classifiers as well as a Mantel test on the ISC matrices to reveal brain areas wherein ISC predicted the participants' current perspective. ISC was stronger in several brain regions-most robustly in the parahippocampal gyrus, posterior parietal cortex and lateral occipital cortex-when the participants viewed the movie with similar rather than different perspectives. Synchronization was not explained by differences in visual sampling of the movies, as estimated by eye gaze. We propose that synchronous brain activity across individuals adopting similar psychological perspectives could be an important neural mechanism supporting shared understanding of the environment.
Rebecca P. Lawson; Ben Seymour; Eleanor Loh; Antoine Lutti; Raymond J. Dolan; Peter Dayan; Nikolaus Weiskopf; Jonathan P. Roiser
The habenula encodes negative motivational value associated with primary punishment in humans Journal Article
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 32, pp. 11858–11863, 2014.
Learning what to approach, and what to avoid, involves assigning value to environmental cues that predict positive and negative events. Studies in animals indicate that the lateral habenula encodes the previously learned negative motivational value of stimuli. However, involvement of the habenula in dynamic trial-by-trial aversive learning has not been assessed, and the functional role of this structure in humans remains poorly characterized, in part, due to its small size. Using high-resolution functional neuroimaging and computational modeling of reinforcement learning, we demonstrate positive habenula responses to the dynamically changing values of cues signaling painful electric shocks, which predict behavioral suppression of responses to those cues across individuals. By contrast, negative habenula responses to monetary reward cue values predict behavioral invigoration. Our findings show that the habenula plays a key role in an online aversive learning system and in generating associated motivated behavior in humans.
Katerina Lukasova; Jens Sommer; Mariana P. Nucci-Da-Silva; Gilson Vieira; Marius Blanke; Frank Bremmer; João R. Sato; Tilo Kircher; Edson Amaro
Test-retest reliability of fMRI activation generated by different saccade tasks Journal Article
In: Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 37–46, 2014.
PURPOSE: To assess the reproducibility of brain-activation and eye-movement patterns in a saccade paradigm when comparing subjects, tasks, and magnetic resonance (MR) systems. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-five healthy adults at two different sites (n = 45) performed saccade tasks with varying levels of target predictability: predictable (PRED), position predictable (pPRED), time predictable (tPRED), and prosaccade (SAC). Eye-movement pattern was tested with a repeated-measures analysis of variance. Activation maps reproducibility were estimated with the cluster overlap Jaccard index and signal variance coefficient of determination for within-subjects test-retest data, and for between-subjects data from the same and different sites. RESULTS: In all groups latencies increased with decreasing target predictability: PRED < pPRED < tPRED < SAC (P < 0,001). Activation overlap was good to fair (>0.40) in all tasks in the within-subjects test-retest comparisons and poor (<0.40) in the tPRED for different subjects. The overlap of the different tasks for within-groups data was higher (0.40-0.68) than for the between-groups data (0.30-0.50). Activation consistency was 60-85% in the same subjects, 50-79% in different subjects, and 50-80% in different sites. In SAC, the activation found in the same and in different subjects was more consistent than in other tasks (50-80%). CONCLUSION: The predictive saccade tasks produced evidence for brain-activation and eye-movement reproducibility
Ryan T. Maloney; Tamara L. Watson; Colin W. G. Clifford
Determinants of motion response anisotropies in human early visual cortex: The role of configuration and eccentricity Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 100, pp. 564–579, 2014.
Anisotropies in the cortical representation of various stimulus parameters can reveal the fundamental mechanisms by which sensory properties are analysed and coded by the brain. One example is the preference for motion radial to the point of fixation (i.e. centripetal or centrifugal) exhibited in mammalian visual cortex. In two experiments, this study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the determinants of these radial biases for motion in functionally-defined areas of human early visual cortex, and in particular their dependence upon eccentricity which has been indicated in recent reports. In one experiment, the cortical response to wide-field random dot kinematograms forming 16 different complex motion patterns (including centrifugal, centripetal, rotational and spiral motion) was measured. The response was analysed according to preferred eccentricity within four different eccentricity ranges. Response anisotropies were characterised by enhanced activity for centripetal or centrifugal patterns that changed systematically with eccentricity in visual areas V1-V3 and hV4 (but not V3A/B or V5/MT. +). Responses evolved from a preference for centrifugal over centripetal patterns close to the fovea, to a preference for centripetal over centrifugal at the most peripheral region stimulated, in agreement with previous work. These effects were strongest in V2 and V3. In a second experiment, the stimuli were restricted to within narrow annuli either close to the fovea (0.75-1.88°) or further in the periphery (4.82-6.28°), in a way that preserved the local motion information available in the first experiment. In this configuration a preference for radial motion (centripetal or centrifugal) persisted but the dependence upon eccentricity disappeared. Again this was clearest in V2 and V3. A novel interpretation of the dependence upon eccentricity of motion anisotropies in early visual cortex is offered that takes into account the spatiotemporal "predictability" of the moving pattern. Such stimulus predictability, and its relationship to models of predictive coding, has found considerable support in recent years in accounting for a number of other perceptual and neural phenomena.
Julia D. I. Meuwese; H. Steven Scholte; Victor A. F. Lamme
Latent memory of unattended stimuli reactivated by practice: An fMRI study on the role of consciousness and attention in learning Journal Article
In: PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. e90098, 2014.
Although we can only report about what is in the focus of our attention, much more than that is actually processed. And even when attended, stimuli may not always be reportable, for instance when they are masked. A stimulus can thus be unreportable for different reasons: the absence of attention or the absence of a conscious percept. But to what extent does the brain learn from exposure to these unreportable stimuli? In this fMRI experiment subjects were exposed to textured figure-ground stimuli, of which reportability was manipulated either by masking (which only interferes with consciousness) or with an inattention paradigm (which only interferes with attention). One day later learning was assessed neurally and behaviorally. Positive neural learning effects were found for stimuli presented in the inattention paradigm; for attended yet masked stimuli negative adaptation effects were found. Interestingly, these inattentional learning effects only became apparent in a second session after a behavioral detection task had been administered during which performance feedback was provided. This suggests that the memory trace that is formed during inattention is latent until reactivated by behavioral practice. However, no behavioral learning effects were found, therefore we cannot conclude that perceptual learning has taken place for these unattended stimuli.
R. Chris Miall; Se-Ho Nam; J. Tchalenko
The influence of stimulus format on drawing-a functional imaging study of decision making in portrait drawing Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 102, pp. 608–619, 2014.
To copy a natural visual image as a line drawing, visual identification and extraction of features in the image must be guided by top-down decisions, and is usually influenced by prior knowledge. In parallel with other behavioral studies testing the relationship between eye and hand movements when drawing, we report here a functional brain imaging study in which we compared drawing of faces and abstract objects: the former can be strongly guided by prior knowledge, the latter less so. To manipulate the difficulty in extracting features to be drawn, each original image was presented in four formats including high contrast line drawings and silhouettes, and as high and low contrast photographic images. We confirmed the detailed eye-hand interaction measures reported in our other behavioral studies by using in-scanner eye-tracking and recording of pen movements with a touch screen. We also show that the brain activation pattern reflects the changes in presentation formats. In particular, by identifying the ventral and lateral occipital areas that were more highly activated during drawing of faces than abstract objects, we found a systematic increase in differential activation for the face-drawing condition, as the presentation format made the decisions more challenging. This study therefore supports theoretical models of how prior knowledge may influence perception in untrained participants, and lead to experience-driven perceptual modulation by trained artists.
Ulrich J. Pfeiffer; Leonhard Schilbach; Bert Timmermans; Bojana Kuzmanovic; Alexandra L. Georgescu; Gary Bente; Kai Vogeley
Why we interact: On the functional role of the striatum in the subjective experience of social interaction Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 101, pp. 124–137, 2014.
There is ample evidence that human primates strive for social contact and experience interactions with conspecifics as intrinsically rewarding. Focusing on gaze behavior as a crucial means of human interaction, this study employed a unique combination of neuroimaging, eye-tracking, and computer-animated virtual agents to assess the neural mechanisms underlying this component of behavior. In the interaction task, participants believed that during each interaction the agent's gaze behavior could either be controlled by another participant or by a computer program. Their task was to indicate whether they experienced a given interaction as an interaction with another human participant or the computer program based on the agent's reaction. Unbeknownst to them, the agent was always controlled by a computer to enable a systematic manipulation of gaze reactions by varying the degree to which the agent engaged in joint attention. This allowed creating a tool to distinguish neural activity underlying the subjective experience of being engaged in social and non-social interaction. In contrast to previous research, this allows measuring neural activity while participants experience active engagement in real-time social interactions. Results demonstrate that gaze-based interactions with a perceived human partner are associated with activity in the ventral striatum, a core component of reward-related neurocircuitry. In contrast, interactions with a computer-driven agent activate attention networks. Comparisons of neural activity during interaction with behaviorally naïve and explicitly cooperative partners demonstrate different temporal dynamics of the reward system and indicate that the mere experience of engagement in social interaction is sufficient to recruit this system.
Fabio Richlan; Benjamin Gagl; Stefan Hawelka; Mario Braun; Matthias Schurz; Martin Kronbichler; Florian Hutzler
Fixation-related fMRI analysis in the domain of reading research: Using self-paced eye movements as markers for hemodynamic brain responses during visual letter string processing Journal Article
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 24, no. 10, pp. 2647–2656, 2014.
The present study investigated the feasibility of using self-paced eye movements during reading (measured by an eye tracker) as markers for calculating hemodynamic brain responses measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Specifically, we were interested in whether the fixation-related fMRI analysis approach was sensitive enough to detect activation differences between reading material (words and pseudowords) and nonreading material (line and unfamiliar Hebrew strings). Reliable reading-related activation was identified in left hemisphere superior temporal, middle temporal, and occipito-temporal regions including the visual word form area (VWFA). The results of the present study are encouraging insofar as fixation-related analysis could be used in future fMRI studies to clarify some of the inconsistent findings in the literature regarding the VWFA. Our study is the first step in investigating specific visual word recognition processes during self-paced natural sentence reading via simultaneous eye tracking and fMRI, thus aiming at an ecologically valid measurement of reading processes. We provided the proof of concept and methodological framework for the analysis of fixation-related fMRI activation in the domain of reading research.
Dana Schneider; Virginia P. Slaughter; Stefanie I. Becker; Paul E. Dux
Implicit false-belief processing in the human brain Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 101, pp. 268–275, 2014.
Eye-movement patterns in 'Sally-Anne' tasks reflect humans' ability to implicitly process the mental states of others, particularly false-beliefs - a key theory of mind (ToM) operation. It has recently been proposed that an efficient ToM system, which operates in the absence of awareness (implicit ToM, iToM), subserves the analysis of belief-like states. This contrasts to consciously available belief processing, performed by the explicit ToM system (eToM). The frontal, temporal and parietal cortices are engaged when humans explicitly 'mentalize' about others' beliefs. However, the neural underpinnings of implicit false-belief processing and the extent to which they draw on networks involved in explicit general-belief processing are unknown. Here, participants watched 'Sally-Anne' movies while fMRI and eye-tracking measures were acquired simultaneously. Participants displayed eye-movements consistent with implicit false-belief processing. After independently localizing the brain areas involved in explicit general-belief processing, only the left anterior superior temporal sulcus and precuneus revealed greater blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity for false- relative to true-belief trials in our iToM paradigm. No such difference was found for the right temporal-parietal junction despite significant activity in this area. These findings fractionate brain regions that are associated with explicit general ToM reasoning and false-belief processing in the absence of awareness.
Michiel Elk; Michiel Elk
The left inferior parietal lobe represents stored hand-postures for object use and action prediction Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, pp. 333, 2014.
Action semantics enables us to plan actions with objects and to predict others' object-directed actions as well. Previous studies have suggested that action semantics are represented in a fronto-parietal action network that has also been implicated to play a role in action observation. In the present fMRI study it was investigated how activity within this network changes as a function of the predictability of an action involving multiple objects and requiring the use of action semantics. Participants performed an action prediction task in which they were required to anticipate the use of a centrally presented object that could be moved to an associated target object (e.g., hammer-nail). The availability of actor information (i.e., presenting a hand grasping the central object) and the number of possible target objects (i.e., 0, 1, or 2 target objects) were independently manipulated, resulting in different levels of predictability. It was found that making an action prediction based on actor information resulted in an increased activation in the extrastriate body area (EBA) and the fronto-parietal action observation network (AON). Predicting actions involving a target object resulted in increased activation in the bilateral IPL and frontal motor areas. Within the AON, activity in the left inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and the left premotor cortex (PMC) increased as a function of the level of action predictability. Together these findings suggest that the left IPL represents stored hand-postures that can be used for planning object-directed actions and for predicting other's actions as well.
H. X. Wang; Elisha P. Merriam; Jeremy Freeman; David J. Heeger
Motion direction biases and decoding in human visual cortex Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 37, pp. 12601–12615, 2014.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have relied on multivariate analysis methods to decode visual motion direction from measurements of cortical activity. Above-chance decoding has been commonly used to infer the motion-selective response properties of the underlying neural populations. Moreover, patterns of reliable response biases across voxels that underlie decoding have been interpreted to reflect maps of functional architecture. Using fMRI, we identified a direction-selective response bias in human visual cortex that: (1) predicted motion-decoding accuracy; (2) depended on the shape of the stimulus aperture rather than the absolute direction of motion, such that response amplitudes gradually decreased with distance from the stimulus aperture edge corresponding to motion origin; and 3) was present in V1, V2, V3, but not evident in MT+, explaining the higher motion-decoding accuracies reported previously in early visual cortex. These results demonstrate that fMRI-based motion decoding has little or no dependence on the underlying functional organization of motion selectivity.
Masha Westerlund; Liina Pylkkänen
The role of the left anterior temporal lobe in semantic composition vs. semantic memory Journal Article
In: Neuropsychologia, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 59–70, 2014.
The left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) is robustly implicated in semantic processing by a growing body of literature. However, these results have emerged from two distinct bodies of work, addressing two different processing levels. On the one hand, the LATL has been characterized as a 'semantic hub׳ that binds features of concepts across a distributed network, based on results from semantic dementia and hemodynamic findings on the categorization of specific compared to basic exemplars. On the other, the LATL has been implicated in combinatorial operations in language, as shown by increased activity in this region associated with the processing of sentences and of basic phrases. The present work aimed to reconcile these two literatures by independently manipulating combination and concept specificity within a minimal MEG paradigm. Participants viewed simple nouns that denoted either low specificity (fish) or high specificity categories (trout) presented in either combinatorial (spotted fish/trout) or non-combinatorial contexts (xhsl fish/trout). By combining these paradigms from the two literatures, we directly compared the engagement of the LATL in semantic memory vs. semantic composition. Our results indicate that although noun specificity subtly modulates the LATL activity elicited by single nouns, it most robustly affects the size of the composition effect when these nouns are adjectivally modified, with low specificity nouns eliciting a much larger effect. We conclude that these findings are compatible with an account in which the specificity and composition effects arise from a shared mechanism of meaning specification.
Eelke Spaak; Floris P. Lange; Ole Jensen
Local entrainment of alpha oscillations by visual stimuli causes cyclic modulation of perception Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 3536–3544, 2014.
Prestimulus oscillatory neural activity in the visual cortex has large consequences for perception and can be influenced by top-down control from higher-order brain regions. Making a causal claim about the mechanistic role of oscillatory activity requires that oscillations be directly manipulated independently of cognitive instructions. There are indications that a direct manipulation, or entrainment, of visual alpha activity is possible through visual stimulation. However, three important questions remain: (1) Can the entrained alpha activity be endogenously maintained in the absence of continuous stimulation?; (2) Does entrainment of alpha activity reflect a global or a local process?; and (3) Does the entrained alpha activity influence perception? To address these questions, we presented human subjects with rhythmic stimuli in one visual hemifield, and arhythmic stimuli in the other. After rhythmic entrainment, we found a periodic pattern in detection performance of near-threshold targets specific to the entrained hemifield. Using magnetoencephalograhy to measure ongoing brain activity, we observed strong alpha activity contralateral to the rhythmic stimulation outlasting the stimulation by several cycles. This entrained alpha activity was produced locally in early visual cortex, as revealed by source analysis. Importantly, stronger alpha entrainment predicted a stronger phasic modulation of detection performance in the entrained hemifield. These findings argue for a cortically focal entrainment of ongoing alpha oscillations by visual stimulation, with concomitant consequences for perception. Our results support the notion that oscillatory brain activity in the alpha band provides a causal mechanism for the temporal organization of visual perception.
Yoshihito Shigihara; Semir Zeki
Parallel processing of face and house stimuli by V1 and specialized visual areas: A magnetoencephalographic (MEG) study Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 8, pp. 901, 2014.
We used easily distinguishable stimuli of faces and houses constituted from straight lines, with the aim of learning whether they activate V1 on the one hand, and the specialized areas that are critical for the processing of faces and houses on the other, with similar latencies. Eighteen subjects took part in the experiment, which used magnetoencephalography (MEG) coupled to analytical methods to detect the time course of the earliest responses which these stimuli provoke in these cortical areas. Both categories of stimuli activated V1 and areas of the visual cortex outside it at around 40 ms after stimulus onset, and the amplitude elicited by face stimuli was significantly larger than that elicited by house stimuli. These results suggest that "low-level" and "high-level" features of form stimuli are processed in parallel by V1 and visual areas outside it. Taken together with our previous results on the processing of simple geometric forms (Shgihara and Zeki, 2013; Shigihara and Zeki, 2014), the present ones reinforce the conclusion that parallel processing is an important component in the strategy used by the brain to process and construct forms.
Daniel Baldauf; Robert Desimone
Neural mechanisms of object-based attention Journal Article
In: Science, vol. 344, no. 6182, pp. 424–427, 2014.
How we attend to objects and their features that cannot be separated by location is not understood. We presented two temporally and spatially overlapping streams of objects, faces versus houses, and used magnetoencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to separate neuronal responses to attended and unattended objects. Attention to faces versus houses enhanced the sensory responses in the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA), respectively. The increases in sensory responses were accompanied by induced gamma synchrony between the inferior frontal junction, IFJ, and either FFA or PPA, depending on which object was attended. The IFJ appeared to be the driver of the synchrony, as gamma phases were advanced by 20 ms in IFJ compared to FFA or PPA. Thus, the IFJ may direct the flow of visual processing during object-based attention, at least in part through coupled oscillations with specialized areas such as FFA and PPA. W
Wei He; Jon Brock; Blake W. Johnson
Face-sensitive brain responses measured from a four-year-old child with a custom-sized child MEG system Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience Methods, vol. 222, pp. 213–217, 2014.
Background: Previous magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies have failed to find a facesensitive, brain response-M170 in children. If this is the case, this suggests that the developmental trajectory of the M170 is different from that of its electrical equivalent, the N170. We investigated the alternative possibility that the child M170 may not be detectable in conventional adult-sized MEG systems. New method: Brain responses to pictures of faces and well controlled stimuli were measured from the same four-year-old child with a custom child MEG system and an adult-sized MEG system. Results: The goodness of fit of the child's head was about the same over the occipital head surface in both systems, but was much worse over all other parts of the head surface in the adult MEG system compared to the child MEG system. The face-sensitive M170 was measured from the child in both MEG systems, but was larger in amplitude, clearer in morphology, and had a more accurate source localization when measured in the child MEG system. Comparison with existing method: The custom-sized child MEG system is superior for measuring the face-sensitive M170 brain response in children than the conventional adult MEG system. Conclusions: The present results show that the face-sensitive M170 brain response can be elicited in a four-year-old child. This provides new evidence for early maturation of face processing brain mechanisms in humans, and offers new opportunities for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders that show atypical face processing capabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder.
Jörn M. Horschig; Ole Jensen; Martine R. Schouwenburg; Roshan Cools; Mathilde Bonnefond
Alpha activity reflects individual abilities to adapt to the environment Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 89, pp. 235–243, 2014.
Recent findings suggest that oscillatory alpha activity (7-13. Hz) is associated with functional inhibition of sensory regions by filtering incoming information. Accordingly the alpha power in visual regions varies in anticipation of upcoming, predictable stimuli which has consequences for visual processing and subsequent behavior. In covert spatial attention studies it has been demonstrated that performance correlates with the adaptation of alpha power in response to explicit spatial cueing. However it remains unknown whether such an adaptation also occurs in response to implicit statistical properties of a task. In a covert attention switching paradigm, we here show evidence that individuals differ on how they adapt to implicit statistical properties of the task. Subjects whose behavioral performance reflects the implicit change in switch trial likelihood show strong adjustment of anticipatory alpha power lateralization. Most importantly, the stronger the behavioral adjustment to the switch trial likelihood was, the stronger the adjustment of anticipatory posterior alpha lateralization. We conclude that anticipatory spatial attention is reflected in the distribution of posterior alpha band power which is predictive of individual detection performance in response to the implicit statistical properties of the task.
Leyla Isik; Ethan M. Meyers; Joel Z. Leibo; Tomaso Poggio
The dynamics of invariant object recognition in the human visual system Journal Article
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 111, no. 1, pp. 91–102, 2014.
The human visual system can rapidly recognize objects despite transformations that alter their appearance. The precise timing of when the brain computes neural representations that are invariant to particular transformations, however, has not been mapped in humans. Here we employ magnetoencephalography decoding analysis to measure the dynamics of size- and position-invariant visual information development in the ventral visual stream. With this method we can read out the identity of objects beginning as early as 60 ms. Size- and position-invariant visual information appear around 125 ms and 150 ms, respectively, and both develop in stages, with invariance to smaller transformations arising before invariance to larger transformations. Additionally, the magnetoencephalography sensor activity localizes to neural sources that are in the most posterior occipital regions at the early decoding times and then move temporally as invariant information develops. These results provide previously unknown latencies for key stages of human-invariant object recognition, as well as new and compelling evidence for a feed-forward hierarchical model of invariant object recognition where invariance increases at each successive visual area along the ventral stream.
Timothy Leffel; Miriam Lauter; Masha Westerlund; Liina Pylkkänen
Restrictive vs. non-restrictive composition: A magnetoencephalography study Journal Article
In: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, vol. 29, no. 10, pp. 1191–1204, 2014.
Recent research on the brain mechanisms underlying language processing has implicated the left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) as a central region for the composition of simple phrases. Because these studies typically present their critical stimuli without contextual information, the sensitivity of LATL responses to contextual factors is unknown. In this magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we employed a simple question-answer paradigm to manipulate whether a prenominal adjective or determiner is interpreted restrictively, i.e., as limiting the set of entities under discussion. Our results show that the LATL is sensitive to restriction, with restrictive composition eliciting higher responses than non-restrictive composition. However, this effect was only observed when the restricting element was a determiner, adjectival stimuli showing the opposite pattern, which we hypothesise to be driven by the special pragmatic properties of non-restrictive adjectives. Overall, our results demonstrate a robust sensitivity of the LATL to high level contextual and potentially also pragmatic factors.
Hyeong Dong Park; Stéphanie Correia; Antoine Ducorps; Catherine Tallon-Baudry
Spontaneous fluctuations in neural responses to heartbeats predict visual detection Journal Article
In: Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 612–618, 2014.
Spontaneous fluctuations of ongoing neural activity substantially affect sensory and cognitive performance. Because bodily signals are constantly relayed up to the neocortex, neural responses to bodily signals are likely to shape ongoing activity. Here, using magnetoencephalography, we show that in humans, neural events locked to heartbeats before stimulus onset predict the detection of a faint visual grating in the posterior right inferior parietal lobule and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, two regions that have multiple functional correlates and that belong to the same resting-state network. Neither fluctuations in measured bodily parameters nor overall cortical excitability could account for this finding. Neural events locked to heartbeats therefore shape visual conscious experience, potentially by contributing to the neural maps of the organism that might underlie subjectivity. Beyond conscious vision, our results show that neural events locked to a basic physiological input such as heartbeats underlie behaviorally relevant differential activation in multifunctional cortical areas.
Liina Pylkkänen; Douglas K. Bemis; Estibaliz Blanco Elorrieta
Building phrases in language production: An MEG study of simple composition Journal Article
In: Cognition, vol. 133, no. 2, pp. 371–384, 2014.
Although research on language production has developed detailed maps of the brain basis of single word production in both time and space, little is known about the spatiotemporal dynamics of the processes that combine individual words into larger representations during production. Studying composition in production is challenging due to difficulties both in controlling produced utterances and in measuring the associated brain responses. Here, we circumvent both problems using a minimal composition paradigm combined with the high temporal resolution of magnetoencephalography (MEG). With MEG, we measured the planning stages of simple adjective-noun phrases ('red tree'), matched list controls ('red, blue'), and individual nouns ('tree') and adjectives ('red'), with results indicating combinatorial processing in the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and left anterior temporal lobe (LATL), two regions previously implicated for the comprehension of similar phrases. These effects began relatively quickly ($sim$180 ms) after the presentation of a production prompt, suggesting that combination commences with initial lexical access. Further, while in comprehension, vmPFC effects have followed LATL effects, in this production paradigm vmPFC effects occurred mostly in parallel with LATL effects, suggesting that a late process in comprehension is an early process in production. Thus, our results provide a novel neural bridge between psycholinguistic models of comprehension and production that posit functionally similar combinatorial mechanisms operating in reversed order.
Lily Riggs; Takako Fujioka; Jessica Chan; Douglas A. McQuiggan; Adam K. Anderson; Jennifer D. Ryan
Association with emotional information alters subsequent processing of neutral faces Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 8, pp. 1001, 2014.
The processing of emotional as compared to neutral information is associated with different patterns in eye movement and neural activity. However, the 'emotionality' of a stimulus can be conveyed not only by its physical properties, but also by the information that is presented with it. There is very limited work examining the how emotional information may influence the immediate perceptual processing of otherwise neutral information. We examined how presenting an emotion label for a neutral face may influence subsequent processing by using eye movement monitoring (EMM) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) simultaneously. Participants viewed a series of faces with neutral expressions. Each face was followed by a unique negative or neutral sentence to describe that person, and then the same face was presented in isolation again. Viewing of faces paired with a negative sentence was associated with increased early viewing of the eye region and increased neural activity between 600 and 1200 ms in emotion processing regions such as the cingulate, medial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala, as well as posterior regions such as the precuneus and occipital cortex. Viewing of faces paired with a neutral sentence was associated with increased activity in the parahippocampal gyrus during the same time window. By monitoring behavior and neural activity within the same paradigm, these findings demonstrate that emotional information alters subsequent visual scanning and the neural systems that are presumably invoked to maintain a representation of the neutral information along with its emotional details.
Rasmus Aamand; Thomas Dalsgaard; Yi-Ching Lynn Ho; Arne Møller; Andreas Roepstorff; Torben E. Lund
A NO way to BOLD?: Dietary nitrate alters the hemodynamic response to visual stimulation Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 83, pp. 397–407, 2013.
Neurovascular coupling links neuronal activity to vasodilation. Nitric oxide (NO) is a potent vasodilator, and in neurovascular coupling NO production from NO synthases plays an important role. However, another pathway for NO production also exists, namely the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway. On this basis, we hypothesized that dietary nitrate (NO3-) could influence the brain's hemodynamic response to neuronal stimulation. In the present study, 20 healthy male participants were given either sodium nitrate (NaNO3) or sodium chloride (NaCl) (saline placebo) in a crossover study and were shown visual stimuli based on the retinotopic characteristics of the visual cortex. Our primary measure of the hemodynamic response was the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response measured with high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (0.64×0.64×1.8mm) in the visual cortex. From this response, we made a direct estimate of key parameters characterizing the shape of the BOLD response (i.e. lag and amplitude). During elevated nitrate intake, corresponding to the nitrate content of a large plate of salad, both the hemodynamic lag and the BOLD amplitude decreased significantly (7.0±2% and 7.9±4%, respectively), and the variation across activated voxels of both measures decreased (12.3±4% and 15.3±7%, respectively). The baseline cerebral blood flow was not affected by nitrate. Ourexperiments demonstrate, for the first time, that dietary nitrate may modulate the local cerebral hemodynamic response to stimuli. A faster and smaller BOLD response, with less variation across local cortex, is consistent with an enhanced hemodynamic coupling during elevated nitrate intake. These findings suggest that dietary patterns, via the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway, may be a potential way to affect key properties of neurovascular coupling. This could have major clinical implications, which remain to be explored.
Julia Bender; Kyeong Jin Tark; Benedikt Reuter; Norbert Kathmann; Clayton E. Curtis
Differential roles of the frontal and parietal cortices in the control of saccades Journal Article
In: Brain and Cognition, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 1–9, 2013.
Although externally as well as internally-guided eye movements allow us to flexibly explore the visual environment, their differential neural mechanisms remain elusive. A better understanding of these neural mechanisms will help us to understand the control of action and to elucidate the nature of cognitive deficits in certain psychiatric populations (e.g. schizophrenia) that show increased latencies in volitional but not visually-guided saccades. Both the superior precentral sulcus (sPCS) and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) are implicated in the control of eye movements. However, it remains unknown what differential contributions the two areas make to the programming of visually-guided and internally-guided saccades. In this study we tested the hypotheses that sPCS and IPS distinctly encode internally-guided saccades and visually-guided saccades. We scanned subjects with fMRI while they generated visually-guided and internally-guided delayed saccades. We used multi-voxel pattern analysis to test whether patterns of cue related, preparatory and saccade related activation could be used to predict the direction of the planned eye movement. Results indicate that patterns in the human sPCS predicted internally-guided saccades but not visually-guided saccades in all trial periods and patterns in the IPS predicted internally-guided saccades and visually-guided saccades equally well. The results support the hypothesis that the human sPCS and IPS make distinct contributions to the control of volitional eye movements.
Jamie Ferri; Joseph Schmidt; Greg Hajcak; Turhan Canli
Neural correlates of attentional deployment within unpleasant pictures Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 70, pp. 268–277, 2013.
Attentional deployment is an emotion regulation strategy that involves shifting attentional focus towards or away from particular aspects of emotional stimuli. Previous studies have highlighted the prevalence of attentional deployment and demonstrated that it can have a significant impact on brain activity and behavior. However, little is known about the neural correlates of this strategy. The goal of the present studies was to examine the effect of attentional deployment on neural activity by directing attention to more or less arousing portions of unpleasant images. In Studies 1 and 2, participants passively viewed counterbalanced blocks of unpleasant images without a focus, unpleasant images with an arousing focus, unpleasant images with a non-arousing focus, neutral images without a focus, and neutral images with a non-arousing focus for 4000. ms each. In Study 2, eye-tracking data were collected on all participants during image acquisition. In both studies, affect ratings following each block indicated that participants felt significantly less negative affect after viewing unpleasant images with a non-arousing focus compared to unpleasant images with an arousing focus. In both studies, the unpleasant non-arousing focus condition compared to the unpleasant arousing focus condition was associated with increased activity in frontal and parietal regions implicated in inhibitory control and visual attention. In Study 2, the unpleasant non-arousing focus condition compared to the unpleasant arousing focus condition was associated with reduced activity in the amygdala and visual cortex. Collectively these data suggest that attending to a non-arousing portion of an unpleasant image successfully reduces subjective negative affect and recruits fronto-parietal networks implicated in inhibitory control. Moreover, when ensuring task compliance by monitoring eye movements, attentional deployment modulates amygdala activity.
Jeremy Freeman; David J. Heeger; Elisha P. Merriam
Coarse-scale biases for spirals and orientation in human visual cortex Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 50, pp. 19695–19703, 2013.
Multivariate decoding analyses are widely applied to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, but there is controversy over their interpretation. Orientation decoding in primary visual cortex (V1) reflects coarse-scale biases, including an over-representation of radial orientations. But fMRI responses to clockwise and counter-clockwise spirals can also be decoded. Because these stimuli are matched for radial orientation, while differing in local orientation, it has been argued that fine-scale columnar selectivity for orientation contributes to orientation decoding. We measured fMRI responses in human V1 to both oriented gratings and spirals. Responses to oriented gratings exhibited a complex topography, including a radial bias that was most pronounced in the peripheral representation, and a near-vertical bias that was most pronounced near the foveal representation. Responses to clockwise and counter-clockwise spirals also exhibited coarse-scale organization, at the scale of entire visual quadrants. The preference of each voxel for clockwise or counter-clockwise spirals was predicted from the preferences of that voxel for orientation and spatial position (i.e., within the retinotopic map). Our results demonstrate a bias for local stimulus orientation that has a coarse spatial scale, is robust across stimulus classes (spirals and gratings), and suffices to explain decoding from fMRI responses in V1.
Semir Zeki; Jonathan Stutters
Functional specialization and generalization for grouping of stimuli based on colour and motion Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 73, pp. 156–166, 2013.
This study was undertaken to learn whether the principle of functional specialization that is evident at the level of the prestriate visual cortex extends to areas that are involved in grouping visual stimuli according to attribute, and specifically according to colour and motion. Subjects viewed, in an fMRI scanner, visual stimuli composed of moving dots, which could be either coloured or achromatic; in some stimuli the moving coloured dots were randomly distributed or moved in random directions; in others, some of the moving dots were grouped together according to colour or to direction of motion, with the number of groupings varying from 1 to 3. Increased activation was observed in area V4 in response to colour grouping and in V5 in response to motion grouping while both groupings led to activity in separate though contiguous compartments within the intraparietal cortex. The activity in all the above areas was parametrically related to the number of groupings, as was the prominent activity in Crus I of the cerebellum where the activity resulting from the two types of grouping overlapped. This suggests (a) that, the specialized visual areas of the prestriate cortex have functions beyond the processing of visual signals according to attribute, namely that of grouping signals according to colour (V4) or motion (V5); (b) that the functional separation evident in visual cortical areas devoted to motion and colour, respectively, is maintained at the level of parietal cortex, at least as far as grouping according to attribute is concerned; and (c) that, by contrast, this grouping-related functional segregation is not maintained at the level of the cerebellum.
Harriet R. Brown; Karl J. Friston
The functional anatomy of attention: A DCM study Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 7, pp. 784, 2013.
Recent formulations of attention—in terms of predictive coding—associate attentional gain with the expected precision of sensory information. Formal models of the Posner paradigm suggest that validity effects can be explained in a principled (Bayes optimal) fashion in terms of a cue-dependent setting of precision or gain on the sensory channels reporting anticipated target locations, which is updated selectively by invalid targets. This normative model is equipped with a biologically plausible process theory in the form of predictive coding, where precision is encoded by the gain of superficial pyramidal cells reporting prediction error. We used dynamic causal modeling to assess the evidence in magnetoencephalographic responses for cue-dependent and top-down updating of superficial pyramidal cell gain. Bayesian model comparison suggested that it is almost certain that differences in superficial pyramidal cells gain—and its top-down modulation—contribute to observed responses; and we could be more than 80% certain that anticipatory effects on post-synaptic gain are limited to visual (extrastriate) sources. These empirical results speak to the role of attention in optimizing perceptual inference and its formulation in terms of predictive coding.
Almudena Capilla; Pascal Belin; Joachim Gross
The early spatio-temporal correlates and task independence of cerebral voice processing studied with MEG Journal Article
In: Cerebral Cortex, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 1388–1395, 2013.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have repeatedly provided evidence for temporal voice areas (TVAs) with particular sensitivity to human voices along bilateral mid/anterior superior temporal sulci and superior temporal gyri (STS/STG). In contrast, electrophysiological studies of the spatio-temporal correlates of cerebral voice processing have yielded contradictory results, finding the earliest correlates either at ∼300-400 ms, or earlier at ∼200 ms ("fronto-temporal positivity to voice", FTPV). These contradictory results are likely the consequence of different stimulus sets and attentional demands. Here, we recorded magnetoencephalography activity while participants listened to diverse types of vocal and non-vocal sounds and performed different tasks varying in attentional demands. Our results confirm the existence of an early voice-preferential magnetic response (FTPVm, the magnetic counterpart of the FTPV) peaking at about 220 ms and distinguishing between vocal and non-vocal sounds as early as 150 ms after stimulus onset. The sources underlying the FTPVm were localized along bilateral mid-STS/STG, largely overlapping with the TVAs. The FTPVm was consistently observed across different stimulus subcategories, including speech and non-speech vocal sounds, and across different tasks. These results demonstrate the early, largely automatic recruitment of focal, voice-selective cerebral mechanisms with a time-course comparable to that of face processing.
Brian A. Coffman; Piyadasa Kodituwakku; Elizabeth L. Kodituwakku; Lucinda Romero; Nirupama Muniswamy Sharadamma; David Stone; Julia M. Stephen
Primary visual response (M100) delays in adolescents with FASD as measured with MEG Journal Article
In: Human Brain Mapping, vol. 34, no. 11, pp. 2852–2862, 2013.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are debilitating, with effects of prenatal alcohol exposure persisting into adolescence and adulthood. Complete characterization of FASD is crucial for the development of diagnostic tools and intervention techniques to decrease the high cost to individual families and society of this disorder. In this experiment, we investigated visual system deficits in adolescents (12-21 years) diagnosed with an FASD by measuring the latency of patients' primary visual M100 responses using MEG. We hypothesized that patients with FASD would demonstrate delayed primary visual responses compared to controls. M100 latencies were assessed both for FASD patients and age-matched healthy controls for stimuli presented at the fovea (central stimulus) and at the periphery (peripheral stimuli; left or right of the central stimulus) in a saccade task requiring participants to direct their attention and gaze to these stimuli. Source modeling was performed on visual responses to the central and peripheral stimuli and the latency of the first prominent peak (M100) in the occipital source timecourse was identified. The peak latency of the M100 responses were delayed in FASD patients for both stimulus types (central and peripheral), but the difference in latency of primary visual responses to central vs. peripheral stimuli was significant only in FASD patients, indicating that, while FASD patients' visual systems are impaired in general, this impairment is more pronounced in the periphery. These results suggest that basic sensory deficits in this population may contribute to sensorimotor integration deficits described previously in this disorder.
M. Guitart-Masip; G. R. Barnes; A. Horner; Markus Bauer; Raymond J. Dolan; E. Duzel
Synchronization of medial temporal lobe and prefrontal rhythms in human decision making Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 442–451, 2013.
Optimal decision making requires that we integrate mnemonic information regarding previous decisions with value signals that entail likely rewards and punishments. The fact that memory and value signals appear to be coded by segregated brain regions, the hippocampus in the case of memory and sectors of prefrontal cortex in the case of value, raises the question as to how they are integrated during human decision making. Using magnetoencephalography to study healthy human participants, we show increased theta oscillations over frontal and temporal sensors during nonspatial decisions based on memories from previous trials. Using source reconstruction we found that the medial temporal lobe (MTL), in a location compatible with the anterior hippocampus, and the anterior cingulate cortex in the medial wall of the frontal lobe are the source of this increased theta power. Moreover, we observed a correlation between theta power in the MTL source and behavioral performance in decision making, supporting a role for MTL theta oscillations in decision-making performance. These MTL theta oscillations were synchronized with several prefrontal sources, including lateral superior frontal gyrus, dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus, and medial frontopolar cortex. There was no relationship between the strength of synchronization and the expected value of choices. Our results indicate a mnemonic guidance of human decision making, beyond anticipation of expected reward, is supported by hippocampal-prefrontal theta synchronization.
Adrian K. C. Lee; Siddharth Rajaram; Jing Xia; Hari Bharadwaj; Eric D. Larson; Matti S. Hämäläinen; Barbara G. Shinn-Cunningham
Auditory selective attention reveals preparatory activity in different cortical regions for selection based on source location and source pitch Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol. 6, pp. 190, 2013.
In order to extract information in a rich environment, we focus on different features that allow us to direct attention to whatever source is of interest. The cortical network deployed during spatial attention, especially in vision, is well characterized. For example, visuospatial attention engages a frontoparietal network including the frontal eye fields (FEFs), which modulate activity in visual sensory areas to enhance the representation of an attended visual object. However, relatively little is known about the neural circuitry controlling attention directed to non-spatial features, or to auditory objects or features (either spatial or non-spatial). Here, using combined magnetoencephalography (MEG) and anatomical information obtained from MRI, we contrasted cortical activity when observers attended to different auditory features given the same acoustic mixture of two simultaneous spoken digits. Leveraging the fine temporal resolution of MEG, we establish that activity in left FEF is enhanced both prior to and throughout the auditory stimulus when listeners direct auditory attention to target location compared to when they focus on target pitch. In contrast, activity in the left posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS), a region previously associated with auditory pitch categorization, is greater when listeners direct attention to target pitch rather than target location. This differential enhancement is only significant after observers are instructed which cue to attend, but before the acoustic stimuli begin. We therefore argue that left FEF participates more strongly in directing auditory spatial attention, while the left STS aids auditory object selection based on the non-spatial acoustic feature of pitch.
Pavan Ramkumar; Mainak Jas; Sebastian Pannasch; Riitta Hari; Lauri Parkkonen
Feature-specific information processing precedes concerted activation in human visual cortex Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 18, pp. 7691–7699, 2013.
Current knowledge about the precise timing of visual input to the cortex relies largely on spike timings in monkeys and evoked-response latencies in humans. However, quantifying the activation onset does not unambiguously describe the timing of stimulus-feature-specific information processing. Here, we investigated the information content of the early human visual cortical activity by decoding low-level visual features from single-trial magnetoencephalographic (MEG) responses. MEG was measured from nine healthy subjects as they viewed annular sinusoidal gratings (spanning the visual field from 2 to 10° for a duration of 1 s), characterized by spatial frequency (0.33 cycles/degree or 1.33 cycles/degree) and orientation (45° or 135°); gratings were either static or rotated clockwise or anticlockwise from 0 to 180°. Time-resolved classifiers using a 20 ms moving window exceeded chance level at 51 ms (the later edge of the window) for spatial frequency, 65 ms for orientation, and 98 ms for rotation direction. Decoding accuracies of spatial frequency and orientation peaked at 70 and 90 ms, respectively, coinciding with the peaks of the onset evoked responses. Within-subject time-insensitive pattern classifiers decoded spatial frequency and orientation simultaneously (mean accuracy 64%, chance 25%) and rotation direction (mean 82%, chance 50%). Classifiers trained on data from other subjects decoded the spatial frequency (73%), but not the orientation, nor the rotation direction. Our results indicate that unaveraged brain responses contain decodable information about low-level visual features already at the time of the earliest cortical evoked responses, and that representations of spatial frequency are highly robust across individuals.
Linsey Roijendijk; Jason Farquhar; Marcel A. J. Gerven; Ole Jensen; Stan Gielen
Exploring the impact of target eccentricity and task difficulty on covert visual spatial attention and its implications for brain computer interfacing Journal Article
In: PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 12, pp. e80489, 2013.
OBJECTIVE: Covert visual spatial attention is a relatively new task used in brain computer interfaces (BCIs) and little is known about the characteristics which may affect performance in BCI tasks. We investigated whether eccentricity and task difficulty affect alpha lateralization and BCI performance. APPROACH: We conducted a magnetoencephalography study with 14 participants who performed a covert orientation discrimination task at an easy or difficult stimulus contrast at either a near (3.5°) or far (7°) eccentricity. Task difficulty was manipulated block wise and subjects were aware of the difficulty level of each block. MAIN RESULTS: Grand average analyses revealed a significantly larger hemispheric lateralization of posterior alpha power in the difficult condition than in the easy condition, while surprisingly no difference was found for eccentricity. The difference between task difficulty levels was significant in the interval between 1.85 s and 2.25 s after cue onset and originated from a stronger decrease in the contralateral hemisphere. No significant effect of eccentricity was found. Additionally, single-trial classification analysis revealed a higher classification rate in the difficult (65.9%) than in the easy task condition (61.1%). No effect of eccentricity was found in classification rate. SIGNIFICANCE: Our results indicate that manipulating the difficulty of a task gives rise to variations in alpha lateralization and that using a more difficult task improves covert visual spatial attention BCI performance. The variations in the alpha lateralization could be caused by different factors such as an increased mental effort or a higher visual attentional demand. Further research is necessary to discriminate between them. We did not discover any effect of eccentricity in contrast to results of previous research.
Jill X. O'Reilly; Urs Schuffelgen; Steven F. Cuell; Timothy E. J. Behrens; Rogier B. Mars; Matthew F. S. Rushworth
Dissociable effects of surprise and model update in parietal and anterior cingulate cortex Journal Article
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 38, pp. E3660–E3669, 2013.
Brains use predictive models to facilitate the processing of expected stimuli or planned actions. Under a predictive model, surprising (low probability) stimuli or actions necessitate the immediate reallocation of processing resources, but they can also signal the need to update the underlying predictive model to reflect changes in the environment. Surprise and updating are often correlated in experimental paradigms but are, in fact, distinct constructs that can be formally defined as the Shannon information (IS) and Kullback-Leibler divergence (DKL) associated with an observation. In a saccadic planning task, we observed that distinct behaviors and brain regions are associated with surprise/IS and updating/DKL. Although surprise/IS was associated with behavioral reprogramming as indexed by slower reaction times, as well as with activity in the posterior parietal cortex [human lateral intraparietal area (LIP)], the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was specifically activated during updating of the predictive model (DKL). A second saccade-sensitive region in the inferior posterior parietal cortex (human 7a), which has connections to both LIP and ACC, was activated by surprise and modulated by updating. Pupillometry revealed a further dissociation between surprise and updating with an early positive effect of surprise and late negative effect of updating on pupil area. These results give a computational account of the roles of the ACC and two parietal saccade regions, LIP and 7a, by which their involvement in diverse tasks can be understood mechanistically. The dissociation of functional roles between regions within the reorienting/reprogramming network may also inform models of neurological phenomena, such as extinction and Balint syndrome, and neglect.
Tim J. Preston; Fei Guo; Koel Das; Barry Giesbrecht; Miguel P. Eckstein
Neural representations of contextual guidance in visual search of real-world scenes Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 18, pp. 7846–7855, 2013.
Exploiting scene context and object– object co-occurrence is critical in guiding eye movements and facilitating visual search, yet the mediating neural mechanisms are unknown. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging while observers searched for target objects in scenes and used multivariate pattern analyses (MVPA) to show that the lateral occipital complex (LOC) can predict the coarse spatial location of observers' expectations about the likely location of 213 different targets absent from the scenes. In addition, we found weaker but significant representations of context location in an area related to the orienting of attention (intraparietal sulcus, IPS) as well as a region related to scene processing (retrosplenial cortex, RSC). Importantly, the degree of agreement among 100 independent raters about the likely location to contain a target object in a scene correlated with LOC's ability to predict the contextual location while weaker but significant effects were found in IPS, RSC, the human motion area, and early visual areas (V1, V3v). When contextual information was made irrelevant to observers' behavioral task, the MVPA analysis of LOC and the other areas' activity ceased to predict the location of context. Thus, our findings suggest that the likely locations of targets in scenes are represented in various visual areas with LOC playing a key role in contextual guidance during visual search of objects in real scenes.
Chen Song; D. Samuel Schwarzkopf; Antoine Lutti; Baojuan Li; Ryota Kanai; Geraint Rees
Effective connectivity within human primary visual cortex predicts interindividual diversity in illusory perception Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 48, pp. 18781–18791, 2013.
Visual perception depends strongly on spatial context. A classic example is the tilt illusion where the perceived orientation of a central stimulus differs from its physical orientation when surrounded by tilted spatial contexts. Here we show that such contextual modulation of orientation perception exhibits trait-like interindividual diversity that correlates with interindividual differences in effective connectivity within human primary visual cortex. We found that the degree to which spatial contexts induced illusory orientation perception, namely, the magnitude of the tilt illusion, varied across healthy human adults in a trait-like fashion independent of stimulus size or contrast. Parallel to contextual modulation of orientation perception, the presence of spatial contexts affected effective connectivity within human primary visual cortex between peripheral and foveal representations that responded to spatial context and central stimulus, respectively. Importantly, this effective connectivity from peripheral to foveal primary visual cortex correlated with interindividual differences in the magnitude of the tilt illusion. Moreover, this correlation with illusion perception was observed for effective connectivity under tilted contextual stimulation but not for that under iso-oriented contextual stimulation, suggesting that it reflected the impact of orientation-dependent intra-areal connections. Our findings revealed an interindividual correlation between intra-areal connectivity within primary visual cortex and contextual influence on orientation perception. This neurophysiological-perceptual link provides empirical evidence for theoretical proposals that intra-areal connections in early visual cortices are involved in contextual modulation of visual perception.
Kyeong Jin Tark; Clayton E. Curtis
Deciding where to look based on visual, auditory, and semantic information Journal Article
In: Brain Research, vol. 1525, pp. 26–38, 2013.
Neurons in the dorsal frontal and parietal cortex are thought to transform incoming visual signals into the spatial goals of saccades, a process known as target selection. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test how target selection may generalize beyond visual transformations when auditory and semantic information is used for selection. We compared activity in the frontal and parietal cortex when subjects made visually, aurally, and semantically guided saccades to one of four differently colored dots. Selection was based on a visual cue (i.e., one of the dots blinked), an auditory cue (i.e., a white noise burst was emitted at one of the dots' location), or a semantic cue (i.e., the color of one of the dots was spoken). Although neural responses in frontal and parietal cortex were robust, they were non-specific with regard to the type of information used for target selection. Decoders, however, trained on the patterns of activity in the intraparietal sulcus could classify both the type of cue used for target selection and the direction of the saccade. Therefore, we find evidence that the posterior parietal cortex is involved in transforming multimodal inputs into general spatial representations that can be used to guide saccades.
Renée M. Visser; H. Steven Scholte; Tinka Beemsterboer; Merel Kindt
Neural pattern similarity predicts long-term fear memory Journal Article
In: Nature Neuroscience, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 388–390, 2013.
Although certain changes in the brain may reflect fear learning, there are no known markers that indicate whether an aversive experience will develop into fear memory. We examined the moment-to-moment dynamics of human fear learning by applying multi-voxel pattern analysis to single-trial blood oxygen level–dependent magnetic resonance imaging data. We found that the long-term behavioral expression of fear memory could be predicted from neural patterns at the time of learning.
Tsafrir Greenberg; Joshua M. Carlson; Jiook Cha; Greg Hajcak; Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi
Neural reactivity tracks fear generalization gradients Journal Article
In: Biological Psychology, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 2–8, 2013.
Recent studies on fear generalization have demonstrated that fear-potentiated startle and skin conductance responses to a conditioned stimulus (CS) generalize to similar stimuli, with the strength of the fear response linked to perceptual similarity to the CS. The aim of the present study was to extend this work by examining neural correlates of fear generalization. An initial experiment (N= 8) revealed that insula reactivity tracks the conditioned fear gradient. We then replicated this effect in a larger independent sample (N= 25). Activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, right supplementary motor cortex and caudate increased reactivity as generalization stimuli (GS) were more similar to the CS, consistent with participants' overall ratings of perceived shock likelihood and pupillary response to each stimulus.
Tsafrir Greenberg; Joshua M. Carlson; Jiook Cha; Greg Hajcak; Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi
Ventromedial prefrontal cortex reactivity is altered in generalized anxiety disorder during fear generalization Journal Article
In: Depression and Anxiety, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 242–250, 2013.
BACKGROUND: Fear generalization is thought to contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety symptoms and accordingly has been the focus of recent research. Previously, we reported that in healthy individuals (N = 25) neural reactivity in the insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), supplementary motor area (SMA), and caudate follow a generalization gradient with a peak response to a conditioned stimulus (CS) that declines with greater perceptual dissimilarity of generalization stimuli (GS) to the CS. In contrast, reactivity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a region linked to fear inhibition, showed an opposite response pattern. The aim of the current study was to examine whether neural responses to fear generalization differ in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A second aim was to examine connectivity of primary regions engaged by the generalization task in the GAD group versus healthy group, using psychophysiological interaction analysis. METHODS: Thirty-two women diagnosed with GAD were scanned using the same generalization task as our healthy group. RESULTS: Individuals with GAD exhibited a less discriminant vmPFC response pattern suggestive of deficient recruitment of vmPFC during fear inhibition. Across participants, there was enhanced anterior insula (aINS) coupling with the posterior insula, ACC, SMA, and amygdala during presentation of the CS, consistent with a modulatory role for the aINS in the execution of fear responses. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that deficits in fear regulation, rather than in the excitatory response itself, are more critical to the pathophysiology of GAD in the context of fear generalization.
Ryan T. Maloney; Tamara L. Watson; Colin W. G. Clifford
Human cortical and behavioral sensitivity to patterns of complex motion at eccentricity Journal Article
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 110, no. 11, pp. 2545–2556, 2013.
Complex patterns of image motion (contracting, expanding, rotating, and spiraling fields) are important in the coordination of visually guided behaviors. Whereas specialized detectors in monkey visual cortex show selectivity for particular patterns of complex motion, their representation in human visual cortex remains unclear. In the present study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the sensitivity of functionally defined regions of human visual cortex to parametrically modulated complex motion trajectories, coupled with complementary psychophysical testing. A unique stimulus design made it possible to disambiguate the neural responses and psychophysical sensitivity to complex motions per se from the distribution of local motions relative to the fovea, which are known to enhance cortical activity when presented radial to fixation. This involved presenting several small, separate motion fields in the periphery in a manner that distinguished them from global optic flow patterns. The patterns were morphed through complex motion space in a systematic time-locked fashion when presented in the scanner. Anisotropies were observed in the fMRI signal, marked by an enhanced response to expanding vs. contracting fields, even in early visual cortex. Anisotropies in the psychophysical sensitivity measures followed a similar pattern that was correlated with activity in areas hV4, V5/MT, and MST. This represents the first systematic examination of complex motion perception at both a behavioral and neural level in human observers. The characteristic processing anisotropy revealed in both data sets can inform models of complex motion processing, particularly with respect to computations performed in early visual cortex.
Elisha P. Merriam; Justin L. Gardner; J. Anthony Movshon; David J. Heeger
Modulation of visual responses by gaze direction in human visual cortex Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 24, pp. 9879–9889, 2013.
To locate visual objects, the brain combines information about retinal location and direction of gaze. Studies in monkeys have demon-strated that eye position modulates the gain of visual signals with " gain fields, " so that single neurons represent both retinotopic location and eye position. We wished to know whether eye position and retinotopic stimulus location are both represented in human visual cortex. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we measured separately for each of several different gaze positions cortical responses to stimuli that varied periodically in retinal locus. Visually evoked responses were periodic following the periodic retinotopic stimulation. Only the response amplitudes depended on eye position; response phases were indistinguishable across eye positions. We used multi-voxel pattern analysis to decode eye position from the spatial pattern of response amplitudes. The decoder reliably discriminated eye position in five of the early visual cortical areas by taking advantage of a spatially heterogeneous eye position-dependent modulation of cortical activity. We conclude that responses in retinotopically organized visual cortical areas are modulated by gain fields qualitatively similar to those previously observed neurophysiologically.
Marieke E. Nieuwenhuijzen; A. R. Backus; A. Bahramisharif; Christian F. Doeller; Ole Jensen; Marcel A. J. Gerven
MEG-based decoding of the spatiotemporal dynamics of visual category perception Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 83, pp. 1063–1073, 2013.
Visual processing is a complex task which is best investigated using sensitive multivariate analysis methods that can capture representation-specific brain activity over both time and space. In this study, we applied a multivariate decoding algorithm to MEG data of subjects engaged in passive viewing of images of faces, scenes, bodies and tools. We used reconstructed source-space time courses as input to the algorithm in order to localize brain regions involved in optimal image discrimination. Applying this method to the interval of 115 to 315. ms after stimulus onset, we show a focal localization of regression coefficients in the inferior occipital, middle occipital, and lingual gyrus that drive decoding of the different perceived image categories. Classifier accuracy was highest (over 90% correctly classified trials, compared to a chance level accuracy of 50%) when dissociating the perception of faces from perception of other object categories. Furthermore, we applied this method to each single time point to extract the temporal evolution of visual perception. This allowed for the detection of differences in visual category perception as early as 85. ms after stimulus onset. Furthermore, localizing the corresponding regression coefficients of each time point allowed us to capture the spatiotemporal dynamics of visual category perception. This revealed initial involvement of sources in the inferior occipital, inferior temporal and superior occipital gyrus. During sustained stimulation additional sources in the anterior inferior temporal gyrus and superior parietal gyrus became involved. We conclude that decoding of source-space MEG data provides a suitable method to investigate the spatiotemporal dynamics of ongoing cognitive processing.
Heng Ru May Tan; Hartmut Leuthold; Joachim Gross
Gearing up for action: Attentive tracking dynamically tunes sensory and motor oscillations in the alpha and beta band Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 82, pp. 634–644, 2013.
Allocation of attention during goal-directed behavior entails simultaneous processing of relevant and attenuation of irrelevant information. How the brain delegates such processes when confronted with dynamic (biological motion) stimuli and harnesses relevant sensory information for sculpting prospective responses remains unclear. We analyzed neuromagnetic signals that were recorded while participants attentively tracked an actor's pointing movement that ended at the location where subsequently the response-cue indicated the required response. We found the observers' spatial allocation of attention to be dynamically reflected in lateralized parieto-occipital alpha (8-12. Hz) activity and to have a lasting influence on motor preparation. Specifically, beta (16-25. Hz) power modulation reflected observers' tendency to selectively prepare for a spatially compatible response even before knowing the required one. We discuss the observed frequency-specific and temporally evolving neural activity within a framework of integrated visuomotor processing and point towards possible implications about the mechanisms involved in action observation.
Stan Van Pelt; Pascal Fries
Visual stimulus eccentricity affects human gamma peak frequency Journal Article
In: NeuroImage, vol. 78, pp. 439–447, 2013.
The peak frequency of neuronal gamma-band synchronization has received much attention in recent years. Gamma peak frequency shifts to higher frequency values for higher contrast, faster moving, and attended stimuli. In monkey V1, gamma peak frequency for a drifting grating is higher for a parafoveal as compared to an eccentric stimulus (Lima et al., 2010). This effect might be due to the cortical magnification factor: the higher cortical magnification for parafoveal stimuli increases the velocity with which the cortical representations of the moving grating stripes move across the cortical surface. Since faster moving stimuli lead to higher gamma frequency, a faster moving cortical representation might do the same. This explanation predicts that the eccentricity effect on gamma peak frequency is absent for stationary stimuli. To test this, we investigated the effect of eccentricity on gamma peak frequency by recording magnetoencephalography in human subjects while they viewed moving or stationary gratings. We found that both the moving and the stationary stimuli induced lower peak frequencies for larger eccentricities, arguing against an explanation based on the cortical magnification factor. We further investigated whether this eccentricity effect was explained by differences in the size or the spatial frequency of the expected cortical activation. Neither of those explained the eccentricity effect. We propose that the different stimulus and top-down factors leading to higher gamma peak frequency all result in higher stimulus salience, that salience is translated into gamma peak frequency, and that gamma peak frequency might subserve the preferential processing of neuronal activity induced by salient stimuli.
Julia M. Stephen; Brian A. Coffman; David B. Stone; Piyadasa Kodituwakku
Differences in MEG gamma oscillatory power during performance of a prosaccade task in adolescents with FASD Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 7, pp. 900, 2013.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by a broad range of behavioral and cognitive deficits that impact the long-term quality of life for affected individuals. However, the underlying changes in brain structure and function associated with these cognitive impairments are not well-understood. Previous studies identified deficits in behavioral performance of prosaccade tasks in children with FASD. In this study, we investigated group differences in gamma oscillations during performance of a prosaccade task. We collected magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from 15 adolescents with FASD and 20 age-matched healthy controls (HC) with a mean age of 15.9 ± 0.4 years during performance of a prosaccade task. Eye movement was recorded and synchronized to the MEG data using an MEG compatible eye-tracker. The MEG data were analyzed relative to the onset of the visual saccade. Time-frequency analysis was performed using Fieldtrip with a focus on group differences in gamma-band oscillations. Following left target presentation, we identified four clusters over right frontal, right parietal, and left temporal/occipital cortex, with significantly different gamma-band (30-50 Hz) power between FASD and HC. Furthermore, visual M100 latencies described in Coffman etal. (2012) corresponded with increased gamma power over right central cortex in FASD only. Gamma-band differences were not identified for stimulus-averaged responses implying that these gamma-band differences were related to differences in saccade network functioning. These differences in gamma-band power may provide indications of atypical development of cortical networks in individuals with FASD.
Yoshihito Shigihara; Semir Zeki
Parallelism in the brain's visual form system Journal Article
In: European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 38, no. 12, pp. 3712–3720, 2013.
We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to determine whether increasingly complex forms constituted from the same elements (lines) activate visual cortex with the same or different latencies. Twenty right-handed healthy adult volunteers viewed two different forms, lines and rhomboids, representing two levels of complexity. Our results showed that the earliest responses produced by lines and rhomboids in both striate and prestriate cortex had similar peak latencies (40 ms) although lines produced stronger responses than rhomboids. Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) showed that a parallel multiple input model to striate and prestriate cortex accounts best for the MEG response data. These results lead us to conclude that the perceptual hierarchy between lines and rhomboids is not mirrored by a temporal hierarchy in latency of activation and thus that a strategy of parallel processing appears to be used to construct forms, without implying that a hierarchical strategy may not be used in separate visual areas, in parallel.
Nathan Faivre; Sylvain Charron; Paul Roux; Stephane Lehericy; Sid Kouider
Nonconscious emotional processing involves distinct neural pathways for pictures and videos Journal Article
In: Neuropsychologia, vol. 50, pp. 3736–3744, 2012.
Facial expressions are known to impact observers' behavior, even when they are not consciously identifiable. Relying on visual crowding, a perceptual phenomenon whereby peripheral faces become undiscriminable, we show that participants exposed to happy vs. neutral crowded faces rated the pleasantness of subsequent neutral targets accordingly to the facial expression's valence. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) along with psychophysiological interaction analysis, we investigated the neural determinants of this nonconscious preference bias, either induced by static (i.e., pictures) or dynamic (i.e., videos) facial expressions. We found that while static expressions activated primarily the ventral visual pathway (including task-related functional connectivity between the fusiform face area and the amygdala), dynamic expressions triggered the dorsal visual pathway (i.e., posterior partietal cortex) and the substantia innominata, a structure that is contiguous with the dorsal amygdala. As temporal cues are known to improve the processing of visible facial expressions, the absence of ventral activation we observed with crowded videos questions the capacity to integrate facial features and facial motions without awareness. Nevertheless, both static and dynamic facial expressions activated the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex, suggesting that nonconscious preference judgments may arise from the evaluation of emotional context and the computation of aesthetic evaluation.
Scott A. Guerin; Clifford A. Robbins; Adrian W. Gilmore; Daniel L. Schacter
Retrieval failure contributes to gist-based false recognition Journal Article
In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 68–78, 2012.
People often falsely recognize items that are similar to previously encountered items. This robust memory error is referred to as gist-based false recognition. A widely held view is that this error occurs because the details fade rapidly from our memory. Contrary to this view, an initial experiment revealed that, following the same encoding conditions that produce high rates of gist-based false recognition, participants overwhelmingly chose the correct target rather than its related foil when given the option to do so. A second experiment showed that this result is due to increased access to stored details provided by reinstatement of the originally encoded photograph, rather than to increased attention to the details. Collectively, these results suggest that details needed for accurate recognition are, to a large extent, still stored in memory and that a critical factor determining whether false recognition will occur is whether these details can be accessed during retrieval.
Fei Guo; Tim J. Preston; Koel Das; Barry Giesbrecht; Miguel P. Eckstein
Feature-independent neural coding of target detection during search of natural scenes Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 32, no. 28, pp. 9499–9510, 2012.
Visual search requires humans to detect a great variety of target objects in scenes cluttered by other objects or the natural environment. It is unknown whether there is a general purpose neural detection mechanism in the brain that codes the presence of a wide variety of categories of objects embedded in natural scenes. We provide evidence for a feature-independent coding mechanism for detecting behaviorally relevant targets in natural scenes in the dorsal frontoparietal network. Pattern classifiers using single-trial fMRI responses in the dorsal frontoparietal network reliably predicted the presence of 368 different target objects and also the observer's choices. Other vision-related areas such as the primary visual cortex, lateral occipital complex, the parahippocampal, and the fusiform gyri did not predict target presence, while high-level association areas related to general purpose decision making, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate, did. Activity in the intraparietal sulcus, a main area in the dorsal frontoparietal network, correlated with observers' decision confidence and with the task difficulty of individual images. These results cannot be explained by physical differences across images or eye movements. Thus, the dorsal frontoparietal network detects behaviorally relevant targets in natural scenes independent of their defining visual features and may be the human analog of the priority map in monkey lateral intraparietal cortex.
Trenton A. Jerde; Elisha P. Merriam; Adam C. Riggall; James H. Hedges; Clayton E. Curtis
Prioritized maps of space in human frontoparietal cortex Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 32, no. 48, pp. 17382–17390, 2012.
Priority maps are theorized to be composed of large populations of neurons organized topographically into a map of gaze-centered space whose activity spatially tags salient and behaviorally relevant information. Here, we identified four priority map candidates along human posterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS0-IPS3) and two along the precentral sulcus (PCS) that contained reliable retinotopically organized maps of contralateral visual space. Persistent activity increased from posterior-to-anterior IPS areas and from inferior-to-superior PCS areas during the maintenance of a working memory representation, the maintenance of covert attention, and the maintenance of a saccade plan. Moreover, decoders trained to predict the locations on one task (e.g., working memory) cross-predicted the locations on other tasks (e.g., attention) in superior PCS and IPS2, suggesting that these patterns of maintenance activity may be interchangeable across the tasks. Such properties make these two areas in frontal and parietal cortex viable priority map candidates.
Zoran Josipovic; Ilan Dinstein; Jochen Weber; David J. Heeger
Influence of meditation on anti-correlated networks in the brain Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 5, pp. 183, 2012.
Human experiences can be broadly divided into those that are external and related to interaction with the environment, and experiences that are internal and self-related. The cerebral cortex appears to be divided into two corresponding systems: an "extrinsic" system composed of brain areas that respond more to external stimuli and tasks and an "intrinsic" system composed of brain areas that respond less to external stimuli and tasks. These two broad brain systems seem to compete with each other, such that their activity levels over time is usually anti-correlated, even when subjects are "at rest" and not performing any task. This study used meditation as an experimental manipulation to test whether this competition (anti-correlation) can be modulated by cognitive strategy. Participants either fixated without meditation (fixation), or engaged in non-dual awareness (NDA) or focused attention (FA) meditations. We computed inter-area correlations ("functional connectivity") between pairs of brain regions within each system, and between the entire extrinsic and intrinsic systems. Anti-correlation between extrinsic vs. intrinsic systems was stronger during FA meditation and weaker during NDA meditation in comparison to fixation (without mediation). However, correlation between areas within each system did not change across conditions. These results suggest that the anti-correlation found between extrinsic and intrinsic systems is not an immutable property of brain organization and that practicing different forms of meditation can modulate this gross functional organization in profoundly different ways.
Christian Kluge; Markus Bauer; Alexander P. Leff; Hans-Jochen Heinze; Raymond J. Dolan; Jon Driver; Alexander Paul
Plasticity of human auditory-evoked fields induced by shock conditioning and contingency reversal Journal Article
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 108, no. 30, pp. 12545–12550, 2011.
We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to assess plasticity of human auditory cortex induced by classical conditioning and contingency reversal. Participants listened to random sequences of high or low tones. A first baseline phase presented these without further associations. In phase 2, one of the frequencies (CS(+)) was paired with shock on half its occurrences, whereas the other frequency (CS(-)) was not. In phase 3, the contingency assigning CS(+) and CS(-) was reversed. Conditioned pupil dilation was observed in phase 2 but extinguished in phase 3. MEG revealed that, during phase-2 initial conditioning, the P1m, N1m, and P2m auditory components, measured from sensors over auditory temporal cortex, came to distinguish between CS(+) and CS(-). After contingency reversal in phase 3, the later P2m component rapidly reversed its selectivity (unlike the pupil response) but the earlier P1m did not, whereas N1m showed some new learning but not reversal. These results confirm plasticity of human auditory responses due to classical conditioning, but go further in revealing distinct constraints on different levels of the auditory hierarchy. The later P2m component can reverse affiliation immediately in accord with an updated expectancy after contingency reversal, whereas the earlier auditory components cannot. These findings indicate distinct cognitive and emotional influences on auditory processing.
Jeremy Freeman; G. J. Brouwer; David J. Heeger; Elisha P. Merriam
Orientation decoding depends on maps, not columns Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 13, pp. 4792–4804, 2011.
The representation of orientation in primary visual cortex (V1) has been examined at a fine spatial scale corresponding to the columnar architecture. We present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measurements providing evidence for a topographic map of orientation preference in human V1 at a much coarser scale, in register with the angular-position component of the retinotopic map of V1. This coarse-scale orientation map provides a parsimonious explanation for why multivariate pattern analysis methods succeed in decoding stimulus orientation from fMRI measurements, challenging the widely held assumption that decoding results reflect sampling of spatial irregularities in the fine-scale columnar architecture. Decoding stimulus attributes and cognitive states from fMRI measurements has proven useful for a number of applications, but our results demonstrate that the interpretation cannot assume decoding reflects or exploits columnar organization.
Katrin Herrmann; Leila Montaser-Kouhsari; Marisa Carrasco; David J. Heeger
When size matters: Attention affects performance by contrast or response gain Journal Article
In: Nature Neuroscience, vol. 13, no. 12, pp. 1554–1561, 2010.
Covert attention, the selective processing of visual information in the absence of eye movements, improves behavioral performance. Here, we show that attention, both exogenous (involuntary) and endogenous (voluntary), can affect performance by contrast or response gain changes, depending on the stimulus size and the relative size of the attention field. These two variables were manipulated in a cueing task while varying stimulus contrast. We observed a change in behavioral performance consonant with a change in contrast gain for small stimuli paired with spatial uncertainty, but a change in response gain for large stimuli presented at one location (no uncertainty) and surrounded by irrelevant flanking distracters. A complementary neuroimaging experiment revealed that observers' attention field was wider with than without spatial uncertainty. Our results support key predictions of the normalization model of attention, and reconcile previous, seemingly contradictory, findings on the effects of visual attention. Introduction
Zoe Kourtzi; Lisa R. Betts; Pegah Sarkheil; Andrew E. Welchman
Distributed neural plasticity for shape learning in the human visual cortex Journal Article
In: PLoS Biology, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 1317–1327, 2005.
Expertise in recognizing objects in cluttered scenes is a critical skill for our interactions in complex environments and is thought to develop with learning. However, the neural implementation of object learning across stages of visual analysis in the human brain remains largely unknown. Using combined psychophysics and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show a link between shape-specific learning in cluttered scenes and distributed neuronal plasticity in the human visual cortex. We report stronger fMRI responses for trained than untrained shapes across early and higher visual areas when observers learned to detect low-salience shapes in noisy backgrounds. However, training with high-salience pop-out targets resulted in lower fMRI responses for trained than untrained shapes in higher occipitotemporal areas. These findings suggest that learning of camouflaged shapes is mediated by increasing neural sensitivity across visual areas to bolster target segmentation and feature integration. In contrast, learning of prominent pop-out shapes is mediated by associations at higher occipitotemporal areas that support sparser coding of the critical features for target recognition. We propose that the human brain learns novel objects in complex scenes by reorganizing shape processing across visual areas, while taking advantage of natural image correlations that determine the distinctiveness of target shapes.