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Tian Xue, Xu Shan, Chen Chen, Hu Yuan, Song Ying, Liu Jia; Visual awareness requires the integration of higher-level brain regions with the stimulus-selective regions. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):948. doi: 10.1167/18.10.948.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Consciousness is a core aspect of human cognition; however, the neural basis of consciousness remains unclear. It has been shown that activity in the stimulus-selective regions reflects the content of visual awareness, but it is unknown whether there are some high-level regions generally involved in conscious perception irrespective of specific content. Here we used the binocular rivalry paradigm to induce perceptual alteration, in which a face and a house image were presented to different eyes and the conscious perception switched between house and face even when sensory input remained constant. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, first, we replicated previous finding that the fusiform face area (FFA) activity increased and parahippocampal place area (PPA) activity decreased when perception changed from house to face, and vice versa. Importantly, to explore the regions generally involved in conscious perception irrespective of specific content, we searched for regions coordinate both with the FFA during face perception and with the PPA during house perception. To measure coordination between regions, we defined an index of pattern shift similarity, that is, if two regions cooperated during conscious perception, multivariate pattern changes in one region should be synchronized with those in the other. We found several regions showing higher pattern shift similarity with the FFA when perception changed from house to face and with the PPA when perception changed from face to house, including the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), precuneus and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). This result applied only to the rivalry condition, but not to the non-rivalry condition when the stimulus alternated between presentation of either face or house alone according to the temporal sequences the subjects reported in the rivalry condition. These results suggested that visual awareness required cooperation between high-level regions generally involved in conscious perception and the stimulus-selective regions reflecting the specific content of conscious perception.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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