September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Persistent confusion on the role of the prefrontal cortex in conscious visual perception
Author Affiliations
  • Hakwan Lau
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 11. doi:
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      Hakwan Lau; Persistent confusion on the role of the prefrontal cortex in conscious visual perception. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):11. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Is the prefrontal cortex (PFC) critical for conscious perception? Here we address three common misconceptions: (1) PFC lesions do not affect subjective perception; (2) PFC activity does not reflect specific perceptual content; and (3) PFC involvement in studies of perceptual awareness is solely driven by the need to make reports required by the experimental tasks rather than subjective experience per se. These claims are often made in high-profile statements in the literature, but they are in fact grossly incompatible with empirical findings. The available evidence highlights PFC’s essential role in enabling the subjective experience in perception, contra the objective capacity to perform visual tasks; conflating the two can also be a source of confusion. Finally we will also discuss the role of PFC in perception in the light of current machine learning models. If the PFC is treated as somewhat akin to a randomly connected recurrent neural network, rather than early layers of a convolution network, the lack of prominent lesion effects may be easily understood.


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