Neural dynamics of visual ambiguity resolution by perceptual prior.


Past experiences have enormous power in shaping our daily perception. Currently, dynamical neural mechanisms underlying this process remain mysterious. Exploiting a dramatic visual phenomenon, where a single experience of viewing a clear image allows instant recognition of a related degraded image, we investigated this question using MEG and 7 Tesla fMRI in humans. We observed that following the acquisition of perceptual priors, different degraded images are represented much more distinctly in neural dynamics starting from ̃500 ms after stimulus onset. Content-specific neural activity related to stimulus-feature processing dominated within 300 ms after stimulus onset, while content-specific neural activity related to recognition processing dominated from 500 ms onward. Model-driven MEG-fMRI data fusion revealed the spatiotemporal evolution of neural activities involved in stimulus, attentional, and recognition processing. Together, these findings shed light on how experience shapes perceptual processing across space and time in the brain.

eLife, 8, e41861