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Columnar clusters in the human motion complex reflect consciously perceived motion axis

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The specific contents of human consciousness rely on the activity of specialized neurons in cerebral cortex. We hypothesized that the conscious experience of a specific visual motion axis is reflected in response amplitudes of direction-selective clusters in the human motion complex. Using submillimeter fMRI at ultrahigh field (7 T) we identified fine-grained clusters that were tuned to either horizontal or vertical motion presented in an unambiguous motion display. We then recorded their responses while human observers reported the perceived axis of motion for an ambiguous apparent motion display. Although retinal stimulation remained constant, subjects reported recurring changes between horizontal and vertical motion percepts every 7 to 13 s. We found that these perceptual states were dissociatively reflected in the response amplitudes of the identified horizontal and vertical clusters. We also found that responses to unambiguous motion were organized in a columnar fashion such that motion preferences were stable in the direction of cortical depth and changed when moving along the cortical surface. We suggest that activity in these specialized clusters is involved in tracking the distinct conscious experience of a particular motion axis.

    Research areas

  • 7-tesla MRI, ANALYSIS STRATEGIES, BINOCULAR-RIVALRY, CORTEX, DIRECTION, FMRI, ORGANIZATION, PERCEPTION, SELECTIVITY, TEMPORAL AREA, VISUAL AWARENESS, apparent motion, columnar fMRI, multistable perception, neural correlates of consciousness
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5096-5101
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Early online date26 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019