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Neural mechanisms of conscious visual perception in the prefrontal cortex: From single units to correlations and spatiotemporal patterns

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Panagiotaropoulos,  Theofanis I
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Panagiotaropoulos, T. I. (2014). Neural mechanisms of conscious visual perception in the prefrontal cortex: From single units to correlations and spatiotemporal patterns. Talk presented at Newcastle University: Extra IoN Seminar. Newcastle, UK.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-3412-0
Abstract
Until recently the temporal cortex was the only known area where neuronal discharges during subjective visual perception closely matched the respective activity during perception without a subjective component, indicating a robust representation of the content of visual awareness. However, it was not clear whether conscious perception should be uniquely localized in the temporal association cortex. We focused on the next level of the ventral visual stream, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), and found single units that also represent reliably conscious content, suggesting a frontotemporal cortical workspace of conscious access. We also studied whether emergent properties of functional connectivity patterns like the structure of interneuronal firing correlations in the PFC could constrain the population coding accuracy and found a non-detrimental correlation structure during subjective perception. These empirical findings are used to constrain biophysically realistic models in an effort to pin down the dynamic mechanisms of perceptual stability and spontaneous perceptual transitions. The latter could be ascribed to spontaneous fluctuations of intrinsic activity that induce perceptual reorganization. In order to gain a preliminary understanding of these fluctuations in the PFC we used multielectrode (Utah array) recordings and mapped the dynamic spatiotemporal structure of oscillatory activity revealing a dominant travelling wave pattern in the beta (15-30Hz) frequency band.