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Bistability of prefrontal states gates access to consciousness

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Dwarakanath,  A
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Kapoor,  V
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Werner,  J
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Safavi,  S
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Fedorov,  LA
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Logothetis,  NK
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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

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Citation

Dwarakanath, A., Kapoor, V., Werner, J., Safavi, S., Fedorov, L., Logothetis, N., et al. (submitted). Bistability of prefrontal states gates access to consciousness.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-9C79-F
Abstract
Access of sensory information to consciousness is thought to be mediated through ignition of neural activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Ignition occurs once activity elicited by sensory input crosses a threshold, which has been shown to depend on brain state fluctuations. However, the neural correlates of fluctuations and their interaction with the neural representations of conscious contents within the PFC remain largely unknown. To understand the role of prefrontal state fluctuations in conscious access, we combined multielectrode intracortical recordings with a no-report binocular rivalry (BR) paradigm that induces spontaneously-driven changes in conscious perception. During BR, antagonistic coupling of two prefrontal states, characterised by dominance of low frequency (1-9Hz) or beta (20-40Hz) local field potentials (LFP), reflect competition between two states of visual consciousness; perceptual update and stability, respectively. Low frequency perisynaptic bursts precede spontaneous transitions in conscious perception, signalling upcoming perceptual update of conscious content. We therefore show that it is a global cortical state that seems to drive internal switches, rather than the spiking activity of selective neuronal ensembles, which subsequently, only report the active percept. Beta band bursts were found to be correlated with periods of stable conscious perception, and selectively synchronised the neural ensemble coding for the consciously perceived stimulus. Similar ongoing fluctuations in the LFPs, with dynamics resembling the distribution of perceptual dominance periods during BR, dominated the prefrontal cortex during resting-state, thus pointing to their default, endogenous nature. Our results suggest that the two modes of conscious perception: perceptual update, and stability, can be associated with distinct prefrontal cortical states.