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Neural responses to junctions and edges in the early visual system.


I propose to study the neural correlates of visual awareness early in the visual system. Specifically, I will test whether activity in the primary visual cortex of awake behaving monkeys correlates with perception. I will address this issue using a known visual illusion (Vasarely's illusion). This illusion shows that corners can perceptually brighter than edges, even when their physical luminance is identical. I have observed that Vasarely' s illusion can be abolished if line segments (flankers) of constant luminance are placed next to the corners. Thus the stimulus (i.e. the corners) still remains physically the same, with and without the flankers, but the perception changes. By comparing the neural responses to the stimulus with and without flankers, I expect to learn whether neuronal activity in the primary visual cortex correlates or not with visual awareness. During my PhD I studied the neural correlates of vis consciousness in humans using EEG (electroencephalography) and a non-invasive optical technique, based on the migration of near- infrared (NIR) photons throughout the brain. As a member of Dr. Martinez-Conde' s group, I will learn to record from single neurons in the awake primate brain, what is really advantageous to study the neural correlates of consciousness. For the next two years, I plan to study the neural correlates of visual awareness in the primate visual system, at the level of single-neuron responses. This project will help me determine the role of the primary visual cortex in the generation of visual perception.


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