On the neural correlates of visual perception.
Neurological findings suggest that the human striate cortex (V1) is an indispensable component of a neural substratum subserving static achromatic form perception in its own right and not simply as a central distributor of retinally derived information to extrastriate visual areas. This view is further supported by physiological evidence in primates that the finest-grained conjoined representation of spatial detail and retinotopic localization that underlies phenomenal visual experience for local brightness discriminations is selectively represented at cortical levels by the activity of certain neurons in V1. However, at first glance, support for these ideas would appear to be undermined by incontrovertible neurological evidence (visual hemineglect and the simultanagnosias) and recent psychophysical results on 'crowding' that confirm that activation of neurons in V1 may, at times, be insufficient to generate a percept. Moreover, a recent proposal suggests that neural correlates of visual awareness must project directly to those in executive space, thus automatically excluding V1 from a related perceptual space because V1 lacks such direct projections. Both sets of concerns are, however, resolved within the context of adaptive resonance theories. Recursive loops, linking the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) through successive cortical visual areas to the temporal lobe by means of a series of ascending and descending pathways, provide a neuronal substratum at each level within a modular framework for mutually consistent descriptions of sensory data. At steady state, such networks obviate the necessity that neural correlates of visual experience project directly to those in executive space because a neural phenomenal perceptual space subserving form vision is continuously updated by information from an object recognition space equivalent to that destined to reach executive space. Within this framework, activity in V1 may engender percepts that accompany figure-ground segregations only when dynamic incongruities are resolved both within and between ascending and descending streams. Synchronous neuronal activity on a short timescale within and across cortical areas, proposed and sometimes observed as perceptual correlates, may also serve as a marker that a steady state has been achieved, which, in turn, may be a requirement for the longer time constants that accompany the emergence and stability of perceptual states compared to the faster dynamics of adapting networks and the still faster dynamics of individual action potentials. Finally, the same consensus of neuronal activity across ascending and descending pathways linking multiple cortical areas that in anatomic sequence subserve phenomenal visual experiences and object recognition may underlie the normal unity of conscious experience. (+info)
Episodic retrieval activates the precuneus irrespective of the imagery content of word pair associates. A PET study.
The aim of this study was to evaluate further the role of the precuneus in episodic memory retrieval. The specific hypothesis addressed was that the precuneus is involved in episodic memory retrieval irrespective of the imagery content. Two groups of six right-handed normal male volunteers took part in the study. Each subject underwent six [15O]butanol-PET scans. In each of the six trials, the memory task began with the injection of a bolus of 1500 MBq of [15O]butanol. For Group 1, 12 word pair associates were presented visually, for Group 2 auditorily. The subjects of each group had to learn and retrieve two sets of 12 word pairs each. One set consisted of highly imaginable words and another one of abstract words. Words of both sets were not related semantically, representing 'hard' associations. The presentations of nonsense words served as reference conditions. We demonstrate that the precuneus shows consistent activation during episodic memory retrieval. Precuneus activation occurred in visual and auditory presentation modalities and for both highly imaginable and abstract words. The present study therefore provides further evidence that the precuneus has a specific function in episodic memory retrieval as a multimodal association area. (+info)
The role of area 17 in visual imagery: convergent evidence from PET and rTMS.
Visual imagery is used in a wide range of mental activities, ranging from memory to reasoning, and also plays a role in perception proper. The contribution of early visual cortex, specifically Area 17, to visual mental imagery was examined by the use of two convergent techniques. In one, subjects closed their eyes during positron emission tomography (PET) while they visualized and compared properties (for example, relative length) of sets of stripes. The results showed that when people perform this task, Area 17 is activated. In the other, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was applied to medial occipital cortex before presentation of the same task. Performance was impaired after rTMS compared with a sham control condition; similar results were obtained when the subjects performed the task by actually looking at the stimuli. In sum, the PET results showed that when patterns of stripes are visualized, Area 17 is activated, and the rTMS results showed that such activation underlies information processing. (+info)
Corticospinal excitability modulation to hand muscles during movement imagery.
Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) to magnetic transcranial stimulation (TCS) were recorded from right abductor digiti minimi (ADM) and first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscles, sharing the same peripheral innervation but engaged in two different motor demands. In seven healthy and trained subjects, the latencies, amplitudes and variability of MEPs were investigated under the following, randomly intermingled, conditions: full muscular and mental relaxation; mental simulation of selective index finger or little finger abduction; mental non-motor activity (arithmetical calculation); and real motor task (little and index finger abduction). The whole procedure was performed by continuous audiovisual monitoring of electromyographic 'silence' in the tested muscles. The maximal facilitatory effects (= latency shortening and amplitude increase) on MEPs were induced by the real motor task. An amplitude potentiation of MEPs in both tested muscles was present during non-motor mental activity, in comparison to basal values. A further amplitude potentiation, without latency shifts, was confined to the muscle acting as 'prime mover' for the mentally simulated movement, according to the motor program dispatched but not executed by the subject. Similar results were also found in the F-wave, showing that mental simulation affects spinal motoneuronal excitability as well, although -- due to the lack of MEP and F-wave latency shift -- the main effect takes place at cortical level. The study shows that movement imagery can focus specific facilitation on the prime-mover muscle for the mentally simulated movement. This is mainly evident on FDI muscle, which controls fingers (i.e. the index) with highly corticalized motor representation. (+info)
Isolating the contributions of familiarity and source information to item recognition: a time course analysis.
Recognition memory may be mediated by the retrieval of distinct types of information, notably, a general assessment of familiarity and the recovery of specific source information. A response-signal speed-accuracy trade-off variant of an exclusion procedure was used to isolate the retrieval time course for familiarity and source information. In 2 experiments, participants studied spoken and read lists (with various numbers of presentations) and then performed an exclusion task, judging an item as old only if it was in the heard list. Dual-process fits of the time course data indicated that familiarity information typically is retrieved before source information. The implications that these data have for models of recognition, including dual-process and global memory models, are discussed. (+info)
When that tune runs through your head: a PET investigation of auditory imagery for familiar melodies.
The present study used positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the cerebral activity pattern associated with auditory imagery for familiar tunes. Subjects either imagined the continuation of nonverbal tunes cued by their first few notes, listened to a short sequence of notes as a control task, or listened and then reimagined that short sequence. Subtraction of the activation in the control task from that in the real-tune imagery task revealed primarily right-sided activation in frontal and superior temporal regions, plus supplementary motor area (SMA). Isolating retrieval of the real tunes by subtracting activation in the reimagine task from that in the real-tune imagery task revealed activation primarily in right frontal areas and right superior temporal gyrus. Subtraction of activation in the control condition from that in the reimagine condition, intended to capture imagery of unfamiliar sequences, revealed activation in SMA, plus some left frontal regions. We conclude that areas of right auditory association cortex, together with right and left frontal cortices, are implicated in imagery for familiar tunes, in accord with previous behavioral, lesion and PET data. Retrieval from musical semantic memory is mediated by structures in the right frontal lobe, in contrast to results from previous studies implicating left frontal areas for all semantic retrieval. The SMA seems to be involved specifically in image generation, implicating a motor code in this process. (+info)
The perception of visual images encoded in musical form: a study in cross-modality information transfer.
This study demonstrates the ability of blind (previously sighted) and blindfolded (sighted) subjects in reconstructing and identifying a number of visual targets transformed into equivalent musical representations. Visual images are deconstructed through a process which selectively segregates different features of the image into separate packages. These are then encoded in sound and presented as a polyphonic musical melody which resembles a Baroque fugue with many voices, allowing subjects to analyse the component voices selectively in combination, or separately in sequence, in a manner which allows a subject to patch together and bind the different features of the object mentally into a mental percept of a single recognizable entity. The visual targets used in this study included a variety of geometrical figures, simple high-contrast line drawings of man-made objects, natural and urban scenes, etc., translated into sound and presented to the subject in polyphonic musical form. (+info)
The functional neuroanatomy of implicit-motion perception or representational momentum.
BACKGROUND: When we view static scenes that imply motion - such as an object dropping off a shelf - recognition memory for the position of the object is extrapolated forward. It is as if the object in our mind's eye comes alive and continues on its course. This phenomenon is known as representational momentum and results in a distortion of recognition memory in the implied direction of motion. Representational momentum is modifiable; simply labelling a drawing of a pointed object as 'rocket' will facilitate the effect, whereas the label 'steeple' will impede it. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural substrate for representational momentum. RESULTS: Subjects participated in two experiments. In the first, they were presented with video excerpts of objects in motion (versus the same objects in a resting position). This identified brain areas responsible for motion perception. In the second experiment, they were presented with still photographs of the same target items, only some of which implied motion (representational momentum stimuli). When viewing still photographs of scenes implying motion, activity was revealed in secondary visual cortical regions that overlap with areas responsible for the perception of actual motion. Additional bilateral activity was revealed within a posterior satellite of V5 for the representational momentum stimuli. Activation was also engendered in the anterior cingulate cortex. CONCLUSIONS: Considering the implicit nature of representational momentum and its modifiability, the findings suggest that higher-order semantic information can act on secondary visual cortex to alter perception without explicit awareness. (+info)