Year of publication
- 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.
- The timing of feedback to early visual cortex in the perception of long-range apparent motion (2008)
- When 2 visual stimuli are presented one after another in different locations, they are often perceived as one, but moving object. Feedback from area human motion complex hMT/V5+ to V1 has been hypothesized to play an important role in this illusory perception of motion. We measured event-related responses to illusory motion stimuli of varying apparent motion (AM) content and retinal location using Electroencephalography. Detectable cortical stimulus processing started around 60-ms poststimulus in area V1. This component was insensitive to AM content and sequential stimulus presentation. Sensitivity to AM content was observed starting around 90 ms post the second stimulus of a sequence and most likely originated in area hMT/V5+. This AM sensitive response was insensitive to retinal stimulus position. The stimulus sequence related response started to be sensitive to retinal stimulus position at a longer latency of 110 ms. We interpret our findings as evidence for feedback from area hMT/V5+ or a related motion processing area to early visual cortices (V1, V2, V3).
- 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.
- Neural synchrony in cortical networks : history, concept and current status (2009)
- Following the discovery of context-dependent synchronization of oscillatory neuronal responses in the visual system, the role of neural synchrony in cortical networks has been expanded to provide a general mechanism for the coordination of distributed neural activity patterns. In the current paper, we present an update of the status of this hypothesis through summarizing recent results from our laboratory that suggest important new insights regarding the mechanisms, function and relevance of this phenomenon. In the first part, we present recent results derived from animal experiments and mathematical simulations that provide novel explanations and mechanisms for zero and nero-zero phase lag synchronization. In the second part, we shall discuss the role of neural synchrony for expectancy during perceptual organization and its role in conscious experience. This will be followed by evidence that indicates that in addition to supporting conscious cognition, neural synchrony is abnormal in major brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. We conclude this paper with suggestions for further research as well as with critical issues that need to be addressed in future studies.
- 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.
- Synchronisierte Antworten aus der Großhirnrinde : ein Lösungsvorschlag für das Bindungsproblem (2005)
- Distributed processing and temporal codes in neuronal networks (2009)
- The cerebral cortex presents itself as a distributed dynamical system with the characteristics of a small world network. The neuronal correlates of cognitive and executive processes often appear to consist of the coordinated activity of large assemblies of widely distributed neurons. These features require mechanisms for the selective routing of signals across densely interconnected networks, the flexible and context dependent binding of neuronal groups into functionally coherent assemblies and the task and attention dependent integration of subsystems. In order to implement these mechanisms, it is proposed that neuronal responses should convey two orthogonal messages in parallel. They should indicate (1) the presence of the feature to which they are tuned and (2) with which other neurons (specific target cells or members of a coherent assembly) they are communicating. The first message is encoded in the discharge frequency of the neurons (rate code) and it is proposed that the second message is contained in the precise timing relationships between individual spikes of distributed neurons (temporal code). It is further proposed that these precise timing relations are established either by the timing of external events (stimulus locking) or by internal timing mechanisms. The latter are assumed to consist of an oscillatory modulation of neuronal responses in different frequency bands that cover a broad frequency range from <2 Hz (delta) to >40 Hz (gamma) and ripples. These oscillations limit the communication of cells to short temporal windows whereby the duration of these windows decreases with oscillation frequency. Thus, by varying the phase relationship between oscillating groups, networks of functionally cooperating neurons can be flexibly configurated within hard wired networks. Moreover, by synchronizing the spikes emitted by neuronal populations, the saliency of their responses can be enhanced due to the coincidence sensitivity of receiving neurons in very much the same way as can be achieved by increasing the discharge rate. Experimental evidence will be reviewed in support of the coexistence of rate and temporal codes. Evidence will also be provided that disturbances of temporal coding mechanisms are likely to be one of the pathophysiological mechanisms in schizophrenia.
- Untangling perceptual memory: hysteresis and adaptation map into separate cortical networks (2012)
- Perception is an active inferential process in which prior knowledge is combined with sensory input, the result of which determines the contents of awareness. Accordingly, previous experience is known to help the brain “decide” what to perceive. However, a critical aspect that has not been addressed is that previous experience can exert 2 opposing effects on perception: An attractive effect, sensitizing the brain to perceive the same again (hysteresis), or a repulsive effect, making it more likely to perceive something else (adaptation). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging and modeling to elucidate how the brain entertains these 2 opposing processes, and what determines the direction of such experience-dependent perceptual effects. We found that although affecting our perception concurrently, hysteresis and adaptation map into distinct cortical networks: a widespread network of higher-order visual and fronto-parietal areas was involved in perceptual stabilization, while adaptation was confined to early visual areas. This areal and hierarchical segregation may explain how the brain maintains the balance between exploiting redundancies and staying sensitive to new information. We provide a Bayesian model that accounts for the coexistence of hysteresis and adaptation by separating their causes into 2 distinct terms: Hysteresis alters the prior, whereas adaptation changes the sensory evidence (the likelihood function).
- 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. ...
- 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.