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J. J. Fahrenfort, H. S. Scholte, V. A. F. Lamme; The spatiotemporal profile of cortical processing leading up to visual perception. Journal of Vision 2008;8(1):12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.1.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Much controversy exists around the locus of conscious visual perception in human cortex. Some authors have proposed that its neural correlates correspond with recurrent processing within visual cortex, whereas others have argued they are located in a frontoparietal network. The present experiment aims to bring together these competing viewpoints. We recorded EEG from human subjects that were engaged in detecting masked visual targets. From this, we obtained a spatiotemporal profile of neural activity selectively related to the processing of the targets, which we correlated with the subjects' ability to detect those targets. This made it possible to distinguish between those stages of visual processing that correlate with human perception and those that do not. The results show that target induced extra-striate feedforward activity peaking at 121 ms does not correlate with perception, whereas more posterior recurrent activity peaking at 160 ms does. Several subsequent stages show an alternating pattern of frontoparietal and occipital activity, all of which correlate highly with perception. This shows that perception emerges early on, but only after an initial feedforward volley, and suggests that multiple reentrant loops are involved in propagating this signal to frontoparietal areas.
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