Year of publication
- Investigating human audio-visual object perception with a combination of hypothesis-generating and hypothesis-testing fMRI analysis tools (2011)
- Primate multisensory object perception involves distributed brain regions. To investigate the network character of these regions of the human brain, we applied data-driven group spatial independent component analysis (ICA) to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data set acquired during a passive audio-visual (AV) experiment with common object stimuli. We labeled three group-level independent component (IC) maps as auditory (A), visual (V), and AV, based on their spatial layouts and activation time courses. The overlap between these IC maps served as definition of a distributed network of multisensory candidate regions including superior temporal, ventral occipito-temporal, posterior parietal and prefrontal regions. During an independent second fMRI experiment, we explicitly tested their involvement in AV integration. Activations in nine out of these twelve regions met the max-criterion (A < AV > V) for multisensory integration. Comparison of this approach with a general linear model-based region-of-interest definition revealed its complementary value for multisensory neuroimaging. In conclusion, we estimated functional networks of uni- and multisensory functional connectivity from one dataset and validated their functional roles in an independent dataset. These findings demonstrate the particular value of ICA for multisensory neuroimaging research and using independent datasets to test hypotheses generated from a data-driven analysis.
- Adolescent Brain Maturation and Cortical Folding: Evidence for Reductions in Gyrification (2014)
- Evidence from anatomical and functional imaging studies have highlighted major modifications of cortical circuits during adolescence. These include reductions of gray matter (GM), increases in the myelination of cortico-cortical connections and changes in the architecture of large-scale cortical networks. It is currently unclear, however, how the ongoing developmental processes impact upon the folding of the cerebral cortex and how changes in gyrification relate to maturation of GM/WM-volume, thickness and surface area. In the current study, we acquired high-resolution (3 Tesla) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from 79 healthy subjects (34 males and 45 females) between the ages of 12 and 23 years and performed whole brain analysis of cortical folding patterns with the gyrification index (GI). In addition to GI-values, we obtained estimates of cortical thickness, surface area, GM and white matter (WM) volume which permitted correlations with changes in gyrification. Our data show pronounced and widespread reductions in GI-values during adolescence in several cortical regions which include precentral, temporal and frontal areas. Decreases in gyrification overlap only partially with changes in the thickness, volume and surface of GM and were characterized overall by a linear developmental trajectory. Our data suggest that the observed reductions in GI-values represent an additional, important modification of the cerebral cortex during late brain maturation which may be related to cognitive development.
- Detecting multineuronal temporal patterns in parallel spike trains (2012)
- We present a non-parametric and computationally efficient method that detects spatiotemporal firing patterns and pattern sequences in parallel spike trains and tests whether the observed numbers of repeating patterns and sequences on a given timescale are significantly different from those expected by chance. The method is generally applicable and uncovers coordinated activity with arbitrary precision by comparing it to appropriate surrogate data. The analysis of coherent patterns of spatially and temporally distributed spiking activity on various timescales enables the immediate tracking of diverse qualities of coordinated firing related to neuronal state changes and information processing. We apply the method to simulated data and multineuronal recordings from rat visual cortex and show that it reliably discriminates between data sets with random pattern occurrences and with additional exactly repeating spatiotemporal patterns and pattern sequences. Multineuronal cortical spiking activity appears to be precisely coordinated and exhibits a sequential organization beyond the cell assembly concept.
- Meditation increases the depth of information processing (2012)
- During meditation, practitioners are required to center their attention on a specific object for extended periods of time. When their thoughts get diverted, they learn to quickly disengage from the distracter. We hypothesized that learning to respond to the dual demand of engaging attention on specific objects and disengaging quickly from distracters enhances the efficiency by which meditation practitioners can allocate attention. We tested this hypothesis in a global-to-local task while measuring electroencephalographic activity from a group of eight highly trained Buddhist monks and nuns and a group of eight age and education matched controls with no previous meditation experience. Specifically, we investigated the effect of attentional training on the global precedence effect, i.e., faster detection of targets on a global than on a local level. We expected to find a reduced global precedence effect in meditation practitioners but not in controls, reflecting that meditators can more quickly disengage their attention from the dominant global level. Analysis of reaction times confirmed this prediction. To investigate the underlying changes in brain activity and their time course, we analyzed event-related potentials. Meditators showed an enhanced ability to select the respective target level, as reflected by enhanced processing of target level information. In contrast with control group, which showed a local target selection effect only in the P1 and a global target selection effect in the P3 component, meditators showed effects of local information processing in the P1, N2, and P3 and of global processing for the N1, N2, and P3. Thus, meditators seem to display enhanced depth of processing. In addition, meditation altered the uptake of information such that meditators selected target level information earlier in the processing sequence than controls. In a longitudinal experiment, we could replicate the behavioral effects, suggesting that meditation modulates attention already after a 4-day meditation retreat. Together, these results suggest that practicing meditation enhances the speed with which attention can be allocated and relocated, thus increasing the depth of information processing and reducing response latency.
- Auditory motion capturing ambiguous visual motion (2012)
- In this study, it is demonstrated that moving sounds have an effect on the direction in which one sees visual stimuli move. During the main experiment sounds were presented consecutively at four speaker locations inducing left or rightward auditory apparent motion. On the path of auditory apparent motion, visual apparent motion stimuli were presented with a high degree of directional ambiguity. The main outcome of this experiment is that our participants perceived visual apparent motion stimuli that were ambiguous (equally likely to be perceived as moving left or rightward) more often as moving in the same direction than in the opposite direction of auditory apparent motion. During the control experiment we replicated this finding and found no effect of sound motion direction on eye movements. This indicates that auditory motion can capture our visual motion percept when visual motion direction is insufficiently determinate without affecting eye movements.
- Context matters : the illusive simplicity of macaque V1 receptive fields (2012)
- Even in V1, where neurons have well characterized classical receptive fields (CRFs), it has been difficult to deduce which features of natural scenes stimuli they actually respond to. Forward models based upon CRF stimuli have had limited success in predicting the response of V1 neurons to natural scenes. As natural scenes exhibit complex spatial and temporal correlations, this could be due to surround effects that modulate the sensitivity of the CRF. Here, instead of attempting a forward model, we quantify the importance of the natural scenes surround for awake macaque monkeys by modeling it non-parametrically. We also quantify the influence of two forms of trial to trial variability. The first is related to the neuron’s own spike history. The second is related to ongoing mean field population activity reflected by the local field potential (LFP). We find that the surround produces strong temporal modulations in the firing rate that can be both suppressive and facilitative. Further, the LFP is found to induce a precise timing in spikes, which tend to be temporally localized on sharp LFP transients in the gamma frequency range. Using the pseudo R2 as a measure of model fit, we find that during natural scene viewing the CRF dominates, accounting for 60% of the fit, but that taken collectively the surround, spike history and LFP are almost as important, accounting for 40%. However, overall only a small proportion of V1 spiking statistics could be explained (R2~5%), even when the full stimulus, spike history and LFP were taken into account. This suggests that under natural scene conditions, the dominant influence on V1 neurons is not the stimulus, nor the mean field dynamics of the LFP, but the complex, incoherent dynamics of the network in which neurons are embedded.