Recurrent processes emulate a cascade of hierarchical decisions: evidence from spatio-temporal decoding of human brain activity

  • Mounting evidence suggests that perception depends on a largely-feedforward brain network. However, the discrepancy between (i) the latency of the corresponding feedforward responses (150-200 ms) and (ii) the time it takes human subjects to recognize brief images (often >500 ms) suggests that recurrent neuronal activity is critical to visual processing. Here, we use magneto-encephalography to localize, track and decode the feedforward and recurrent responses elicited by brief presentations of variably-ambiguous letters and digits. We first confirm that these stimuli trigger, within the first 200 ms, a feedforward response in the ventral and dorsal cortical pathways. The subsequent activity is distributed across temporal, parietal and prefrontal cortices and leads to a slow and incremental cascade of representations culminating in action-specific motor signals. We introduce an analytical framework to show that these brain responses are best accounted for by a hierarchy of recurrent neural assemblies. An accumulation of computational delays across specific processing stages explains subjects’ reaction times. Finally, the slow convergence of neural representations towards perceptual categories is quickly followed by all-or-none motor decision signals. Together, these results show how recurrent processes generate, over extended time periods, a cascade of hierarchical decisions that ultimately predicts subjects’ perceptual reports.

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Author:Laura GwilliamsORCiD, Jean-Rémi KingORCiD
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2019/11/12
Date of first Publication:2019/11/12
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/06/22
Article Number:840074
Page Number:14
Institutes:Wissenschaftliche Zentren und koordinierte Programme / Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International