Bi-Stable Perception: Self-Coordinating Brain Regions to Make-Up the Mind
Frontiers in Neuroscience
Bi-stable perception is a strong instance of cognitive self-organization, providing a research model for how 'the brain makes up its mind.' The complexity of perceptual bistability prevents a simple attribution of functions to areas, because many cognitive processes, recruiting multiple brain regions, are simultaneously involved. The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence suggests the activation of a large network of distant brain areas. Concurrently, electroencephalographic and
... agnetoencephalographic (MEEG) literature shows sub second oscillatory activity and phase synchrony on several frequency bands. Strongly represented are beta and gamma bands, often associated with neural/cognitive integration processes. The spatial extension and short duration of brain activities suggests the need for a fast, large-scale neural coordination mechanism. To address the range of temporo-spatial scales involved, we systematize the current knowledge from mathematical models, cognitive sciences and neuroscience at large, from single-cell- to system-level research, including evidence from human and non-human primates. Surprisingly, despite evidence spanning through different organization levels, models, and experimental approaches, the scarcity of integrative studies is evident. In a final section of the review we dwell on the reasons behind such scarcity and on the need of integration in order to achieve a real understanding of the complexities underlying bi-stable perception processes.