Year of publication
- Separate cortical stages in amodal completion revealed by functional magnetic resonance adaptation : research article (2007)
- Background Objects in our environment are often partly occluded, yet we effortlessly perceive them as whole and complete. This phenomenon is called visual amodal completion. Psychophysical investigations suggest that the process of completion starts from a representation of the (visible) physical features of the stimulus and ends with a completed representation of the stimulus. The goal of our study was to investigate both stages of the completion process by localizing both brain regions involved in processing the physical features of the stimulus as well as brain regions representing the completed stimulus. Results Using fMRI adaptation we reveal clearly distinct regions in the visual cortex of humans involved in processing of amodal completion: early visual cortex - presumably V1 - processes the local contour information of the stimulus whereas regions in the inferior temporal cortex represent the completed shape. Furthermore, our data suggest that at the level of inferior temporal cortex information regarding the original local contour information is not preserved but replaced by the representation of the amodally completed percept. Conclusion These findings provide neuroimaging evidence for a multiple step theory of amodal completion and further insights into the neuronal correlates of visual perception.
- Primary visual cortex activity along the apparent-motion trace reflects illusory perception (2005)
- The illusion of apparent motion can be induced when visual stimuli are successively presented at different locations. It has been shown in previous studies that motion-sensitive regions in extrastriate cortex are relevant for the processing of apparent motion, but it is unclear whether primary visual cortex (V1) is also involved in the representation of the illusory motion path. We investigated, in human subjects, apparent-motion-related activity in patches of V1 representing locations along the path of illusory stimulus motion using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Here we show that apparent motion caused a blood-oxygenation-level-dependent response along the V1 representations of the apparent-motion path, including regions that were not directly activated by the apparent-motion-inducing stimuli. This response was unaltered when participants had to perform an attention-demanding task that diverted their attention away from the stimulus. With a bistable motion quartet, we confirmed that the activity was related to the conscious perception of movement. Our data suggest that V1 is part of the network that represents the illusory path of apparent motion. The activation in V1 can be explained either by lateral interactions within V1 or by feedback mechanisms from higher visual areas, especially the motion-sensitive human MT/V5 complex.
- Timescales of multineuronal activity patterns reflect temporal structure of visual stimuli (2011)
- The investigation of distributed coding across multiple neurons in the cortex remains to this date a challenge. Our current understanding of collective encoding of information and the relevant timescales is still limited. Most results are restricted to disparate timescales, focused on either very fast, e.g., spike-synchrony, or slow timescales, e.g., firing rate. Here, we investigated systematically multineuronal activity patterns evolving on different timescales, spanning the whole range from spike-synchrony to mean firing rate. Using multi-electrode recordings from cat visual cortex, we show that cortical responses can be described as trajectories in a high-dimensional pattern space. Patterns evolve on a continuum of coexisting timescales that strongly relate to the temporal properties of stimuli. Timescales consistent with the time constants of neuronal membranes and fast synaptic transmission (5–20 ms) play a particularly salient role in encoding a large amount of stimulus-related information. Thus, to faithfully encode the properties of visual stimuli the brain engages multiple neurons into activity patterns evolving on multiple timescales.
- A small world of neuronal synchrony (2008)
- A small-world network has been suggested to be an efficient solution for achieving both modular and global processing-a property highly desirable for brain computations. Here, we investigated functional networks of cortical neurons using correlation analysis to identify functional connectivity. To reconstruct the interaction network, we applied the Ising model based on the principle of maximum entropy. This allowed us to assess the interactions by measuring pairwise correlations and to assess the strength of coupling from the degree of synchrony. Visual responses were recorded in visual cortex of anesthetized cats, simultaneously from up to 24 neurons. First, pairwise correlations captured most of the patterns in the population´s activity and, therefore, provided a reliable basis for the reconstruction of the interaction networks. Second, and most importantly, the resulting networks had small-world properties; the average path lengths were as short as in simulated random networks, but the clustering coefficients were larger. Neurons differed considerably with respect to the number and strength of interactions, suggesting the existence of "hubs" in the network. Notably, there was no evidence for scale-free properties. These results suggest that cortical networks are optimized for the coexistence of local and global computations: feature detection and feature integration or binding.
- Synchronisierte Antworten aus der Großhirnrinde : ein Lösungsvorschlag für das Bindungsproblem (2005)
- Die Welt jenseits der Oszillografen : ein Streitgespräch zwischen dem Hirnforscher Wolf Singer und dem Philosophen Marcus Willaschek (2005)
- Neurowissenschaftler fordern einen illusionslosen Umgang mit Begriffen wie Willensfreiheit und Bewusstsein. Philosophen kritisieren offen die Thesen von Hirnforschern. Stehen sich diese Positionen unversöhnlich gegenüber? Wo gibt es Möglichkeiten einer Annäherung, gar einer Kooperation? Der Religionsphilosoph Prof. Dr. Thomas M. Schmidt und der Biologe Stefan Kieß loten die Situation in Frankfurt aus; ihre Gesprächspartner sind der Hirnforscher Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer (links), Direktor am Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung, und Prof. Dr. Marcus Willaschek (rechts), Philosoph an der Universität Frankfurt.
- Multidimensional patterns of neuronal activity: how do we see them? (2008)
- Poster presentation: Introduction The brain is a highly interconnected network of constantly interacting units. Understanding the collective behavior of these units requires a multi-dimensional approach. The results of such analyses are hard to visualize and interpret. Hence tools capable of dealing with such tasks become imperative. ....
- NeuroXidence: reliable and efficient analysis of an excess or deficiency of joint-spike events (2009)
- Poster presentation: We present a non-parametric and computationally-efficient method named NeuroXidence (see http://www.NeuroXidence.com ) that detects coordinated firing within a group of two or more neurons and tests whether the observed level of coordinated firing is significantly different from that expected by chance. NeuroXidence  considers the full auto-structure of the data, including the changes in the rate responses and the history dependencies in the spiking activity. We demonstrate that NeuroXidence can identify epochs with significant spike synchronisation even if these coincide with strong and fast rate modulations. We also show, that the method accounts for trial-by-trial variability in the rate responses and their latencies, and that it can be applied to short data windows lasting only tens of milliseconds. Based on simulated data we compare the performance of NeuroXidence with the UE-method [2,3] and the cross-correlation analysis. An application of NeuroXidence to 42 single-units (SU) recorded in area 17 of an anesthetized cat revealed significant coincident events of high complexities, involving firing of up to 8 SUs simultaneously (5 ms window). The results were highly consistent with those obtained by traditional pair-wise measures based on cross-correlation: Neuronal synchrony was strongest in stimulation conditions in which the orientation of the sinusoidal grating matched the preferred orientation of most of the SUs included in the analysis, and was the weakest when the neurons were stimulated least optimally. Interestingly, events of higher complexities showed stronger stimulus-specific modulation than pair-wise interactions. The results suggest strong evidence for stimulus specific synchronous firing and, therefore, support the temporal coding hypothesis in visual cortex. ...
- Distributed fading memory for stimulus properties in the primary visual cortex (2009)
- It is currently not known how distributed neuronal responses in early visual areas carry stimulus-related information. We made multielectrode recordings from cat primary visual cortex and applied methods from machine learning in order to analyze the temporal evolution of stimulus-related information in the spiking activity of large ensembles of around 100 neurons. We used sequences of up to three different visual stimuli (letters of the alphabet) presented for 100 ms and with intervals of 100 ms or larger. Most of the information about visual stimuli extractable by sophisticated methods of machine learning, i.e., support vector machines with nonlinear kernel functions, was also extractable by simple linear classification such as can be achieved by individual neurons. New stimuli did not erase information about previous stimuli. The responses to the most recent stimulus contained about equal amounts of information about both this and the preceding stimulus. This information was encoded both in the discharge rates (response amplitudes) of the ensemble of neurons and, when using short time constants for integration (e.g., 20 ms), in the precise timing of individual spikes (<= ~20 ms), and persisted for several 100 ms beyond the offset of stimuli. The results indicate that the network from which we recorded is endowed with fading memory and is capable of performing online computations utilizing information about temporally sequential stimuli. This result challenges models assuming frame-by-frame analyses of sequential inputs.
- Performance- and stimulus-dependent oscillations in monkey prefrontal cortex during short-term memory (2009)
- Short-term memory requires the coordination of sub-processes like encoding, retention, retrieval and comparison of stored material to subsequent input. Neuronal oscillations have an inherent time structure, can effectively coordinate synaptic integration of large neuron populations and could therefore organize and integrate distributed sub-processes in time and space. We observed field potential oscillations (14–95 Hz) in ventral prefrontal cortex of monkeys performing a visual memory task. Stimulus-selective and performance-dependent oscillations occurred simultaneously at 65–95 Hz and 14–50 Hz, the latter being phase-locked throughout memory maintenance. We propose that prefrontal oscillatory activity may be instrumental for the dynamical integration of local and global neuronal processes underlying short-term memory.