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Absence of Face-specific Cortical Activity in the Complete Absence of Awareness: Converging Evidence from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Event-related Potentials
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2012) 24 (2): 396–415.
Published: 01 February 2012
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In this study, we explored the neural correlates of perceptual awareness during a masked face detection task. To assess awareness more precisely than in previous studies, participants employed a 4-point scale to rate subjective visibility. An event-related fMRI and a high-density ERP study were carried out. Imaging data showed that conscious face detection was linked to activation of fusiform and occipital face areas. Frontal and parietal regions, including the pre-SMA, inferior frontal sulcus, anterior insula/frontal operculum, and intraparietal sulcus, also responded strongly when faces were consciously perceived. In contrast, no brain area showed face-selective activity when participants reported no impression of a face. ERP results showed that conscious face detection was associated with enhanced N170 and also with the presence of a second negativity around 300 msec and a slow positivity around 415 msec. Again, face-related activity was absent when faces were not consciously perceived. We suggest that, under conditions of backward masking, ventral stream and fronto-parietal regions show similar, strong links of face-related activity to conscious perception and stress the importance of a detailed assessment of awareness to examine activity related to unseen stimulus events.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2007) 19 (5): 893–906.
Published: 01 May 2007
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When we listen to rhythm, we often move spontaneously to the beat. This movement may result from processing of the beat by motor areas. Previous studies have shown that several motor areas respond when attending to rhythms. Here we investigate whether specific motor regions respond to beat in rhythm. We predicted that the basal ganglia and supplementary motor area (SMA) would respond in the presence of a regular beat. To establish what rhythm properties induce a beat, we asked subjects to reproduce different types of rhythmic sequences. Improved reproduction was observed for one rhythm type, which had integer ratio relationships between its intervals and regular perceptual accents. A subsequent functional magnetic resonance imaging study found that these rhythms also elicited higher activity in the basal ganglia and SMA. This finding was consistent across different levels of musical training, although musicians showed activation increases unrelated to rhythm type in the premotor cortex, cerebellum, and SMAs (pre-SMA and SMA). We conclude that, in addition to their role in movement production, the basal ganglia and SMAs may mediate beat perception.
Actions Speak Louder Than Functions: The Importance of Manipulability and Action in Tool Representation
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2003) 15 (1): 30–46.
Published: 01 January 2003
AbstractView article PDF
PET was used to investigate the neural correlates of action knowledge in object representations, particularly the left lateralized network of activations previously implicated in the processing of tools and their associated actions: ventral premotor cortex (VPMCx), posterior middle temporal gyrus (PMTG), and intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Judgments were made about the actions and functions associated with manipulable man-made objects (e.g., hammer); this enabled us to measure activations in response to both explicit and implicit retrieval of knowledge about actions associated with manipulable tools. Function judgments were also made about nonmanipulable artifacts (e.g., traffic light) providing a direct comparison for manipulable objects. Although neither the left VPMCx nor the left PMTG were selective for tool stimuli (nonmanipulable objects also activated these areas relative to a visual control condition), both regions responded more strongly to manipulable objects, suggesting a role for these cortical areas in the processing of knowledge associated with tools. Furthermore, these activations were insensitive to retrieval task, suggesting that visually presented tools automatically recruit both left VPMCx and left PMTG in response to action features that are inherent in tool representations. In contrast, the IPS showed clear selectivity for explicit retrieval of action information about manipulable objects. No regions of cortex were more activated by function relative to action judgments about artifacts. These results are consistent with the brain's preferential responsiveness to how we interact with objects, rather than what they are used for.