It has commonly been assumed that the many separate areas of the visual system perform modular analyses, each restricted to a single attribute of the image. A recent paper advocates a radically different approach, where all areas in the hierarchy analyse all attributes of the image to extract perceptually relevant decisions. (+info)
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)
Transient and permanent deficits in motion perception after lesions of cortical areas MT and MST in the macaque monkey.
We examined the nature and the selectivity of the motion deficits produced by lesions of extrastriate areas MT and MST. Lesions were made by injecting ibotenic acid into the representation of the left visual field in two macaque monkeys. The monkeys discriminated two stimuli that differed either in stimulus direction or orientation. Direction and orientation discrimination were assessed by measuring thresholds with gratings and random-dots placed in the intact or lesioned visual fields. At the start of behavioral testing, we found pronounced, motion-specific deficits in thresholds for all types of moving stimuli, including pronounced elevations in contrast thresholds and in signal-to-noise thresholds measured with moving gratings, as well as deficits in direction range thresholds and motion coherence measured with random-dot stimuli. In addition, the accuracy of direction discrimination was reduced at smaller spatial displacements (i.e. step sizes), suggesting an increase in spatial scale of the residual directional mechanism. Subsequent improvements in thresholds were seen with all motion stimuli, as behavioral training progressed, and these improvements occurred only with extensive behavioral testing in the lesioned visual field. These improvements were particularly pronounced for stimuli not masked by noise. On the other hand, deficits in the ability to extract motion from noisy stimuli and in the accuracy of direction discrimination persisted despite extensive behavioral training. These results demonstrate the importance of areas MT and MST for the perception of motion direction, particularly in the presence of noise. In addition, they provide evidence for the importance of behavioral training for functional recovery after cortical lesions. The data also strongly support the idea of functional specialization of areas MT and MST for motion processing. (+info)
Modulation of long-term synaptic depression in visual cortex by acetylcholine and norepinephrine.
In a slice preparation of rat visual cortex, we discovered that paired-pulse stimulation (PPS) elicits a form of homosynaptic long-term depression (LTD) in the superficial layers when carbachol (CCh) or norepinephrine (NE) is applied concurrently. PPS by itself, or CCh and NE in the absence of synaptic stimulation, produced no lasting change. The LTD induced by PPS in the presence of NE or CCh is of comparable magnitude with that obtained with prolonged low-frequency stimulation (LFS) but requires far fewer stimulation pulses (40 vs 900). The cholinergic facilitation of LTD was blocked by atropine and pirenzepine, suggesting involvement of M1 receptors. The noradrenergic facilitation of LTD was blocked by urapidil and was mimicked by methoxamine, suggesting involvement of alpha1 receptors. beta receptor agonists and antagonists were without effect. Induction of LTD by PPS was inhibited by NMDA receptor blockers (completely in the case of NE; partially in the case of CCh), suggesting that one action of the modulators is to control the gain of NMDA receptor-dependent homosynaptic LTD in visual cortex. We propose that this is a mechanism by which cholinergic and noradrenergic inputs to the neocortex modulate naturally occurring receptive field plasticity. (+info)
Competitive mechanisms subserve attention in macaque areas V2 and V4.
It is well established that attention modulates visual processing in extrastriate cortex. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. A consistent observation is that attention has its greatest impact on neuronal responses when multiple stimuli appear together within a cell's receptive field. One way to explain this is to assume that multiple stimuli activate competing populations of neurons and that attention biases this competition in favor of the attended stimulus. In the absence of competing stimuli, there is no competition to be resolved. Accordingly, attention has a more limited effect on the neuronal response to a single stimulus. To test this interpretation, we measured the responses of neurons in macaque areas V2 and V4 using a behavioral paradigm that allowed us to isolate automatic sensory processing mechanisms from attentional effects. First, we measured each cell's response to a single stimulus presented alone inside the receptive field or paired with a second receptive field stimulus, while the monkey attended to a location outside the receptive field. Adding the second stimulus typically caused the neuron's response to move toward the response that was elicited by the second stimulus alone. Then, we directed the monkey's attention to one element of the pair. This drove the neuron's response toward the response elicited when the attended stimulus appeared alone. These findings are consistent with the idea that attention biases competitive interactions among neurons, causing them to respond primarily to the attended stimulus. A quantitative neural model of attention is proposed to account for these results. (+info)
CRE-mediated gene transcription in neocortical neuronal plasticity during the developmental critical period.
Neuronal activity-dependent processes are believed to mediate the formation of synaptic connections during neocortical development, but the underlying intracellular mechanisms are not known. In the visual system, altering the pattern of visually driven neuronal activity by monocular deprivation induces cortical synaptic rearrangement during a postnatal developmental window, the critical period. Here, using transgenic mice carrying a CRE-lacZ reporter, we demonstrate that a calcium- and cAMP-regulated signaling pathway is activated following monocular deprivation. We find that monocular deprivation leads to an induction of CRE-mediated lacZ expression in the visual cortex preceding the onset of physiologic plasticity, and this induction is dramatically downregulated following the end of the critical period. These results suggest that CRE-dependent coordinate regulation of a network of genes may control physiologic plasticity during postnatal neocortical development. (+info)
MST neuronal responses to heading direction during pursuit eye movements.
As you move through the environment, you see a radial pattern of visual motion with a focus of expansion (FOE) that indicates your heading direction. When self-movement is combined with smooth pursuit eye movements, the turning of the eye distorts the retinal image of the FOE but somehow you still can perceive heading. We studied neurons in the medial superior temporal area (MST) of monkey visual cortex, recording responses to FOE stimuli presented during fixation and smooth pursuit eye movements. Almost all neurons showed significant changes in their FOE selective responses during pursuit eye movements. However, the vector average of all the neuronal responses indicated the direction of the FOE during both fixation and pursuit. Furthermore, the amplitude of the net vector increased with increasing FOE eccentricity. We conclude that neuronal population encoding in MST might contribute to pursuit-tolerant heading perception. (+info)
Retinotopic mapping of lateral geniculate nucleus in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Subcortical nuclei in the thalamus, which play an important role in many functions of the human brain, provide challenging targets for functional mapping with neuroimaging techniques because of their small sizes and deep locations. In this study, we explore the capability of high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging at 4 Tesla for mapping the retinotopic organization in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Our results show that the hemifield visual stimulation only activates LGN in the contralateral hemisphere, and the lower-field and upper-field visual stimulations activate the superior and inferior portion of LGN, respectively. These results reveal a similar retinotopic organization between the human and nonhuman primate LGN and between LGN and the primary visual cortex. We conclude that high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging is capable of functional mapping of suborganizations in small nuclei together with cortical activation. This will have an impact for studying the thalamocortical networks in the human brain. (+info)