Two distinct feedback codes in V1 for 'real' and 'imaginary' internal experiences [article]

Johanna Bergmann, Andrew T. Morgan, Lars Muckli
2019 bioRxiv   pre-print
AbstractVisual illusions and visual imagery are conscious sensory events that lack a corresponding physical input. But while everyday mental imagery feels distinct from incoming stimulus input, visual illusions, like hallucinations, are under limited volitional control and appear indistinguishable from physical reality. Illusions are thought to arise from lower-level processes within sensory cortices. In contrast, imagery involves a wide network of brain areas that recruit early visual cortices
more » ... for the sensory representation of the imagined stimulus. Here, we combine laminar fMRI brain imaging with psychophysical methods and multivariate pattern analysis to investigate in human participants how seemingly 'real' and imaginary non-physical experiences are processed in primary visual cortex (V1). We find that the content of mental imagery is only decodable in deep layers, whereas illusory content is only decodable at superficial depths. This suggests that feedback to the different layers may serve distinct functions: low-level feedback to superficial layers might be responsible for shaping perception-like experiences, while deep-layer feedback might serve the formation of a more malleable 'inner' world, separate from ongoing perception.
doi:10.1101/664870 fatcat:ebb35gzgxzgo3i2uaavsyiaa2q