Differential brain activity states during the perception and nonperception of illusory motion as revealed by magnetoencephalography

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - 2010-12-28Crowe D, Leuthold A, Georgopoulos AP10.1073/pnas.1009857108
We studied visual perception using an annular random-dot motion stimulus called the racetrack. We recorded neural activity using magnetoencephalography while subjects viewed variants of this stimulus that contained no inherent motion or various degrees of embedded motion. Subjects reported seeing rotary motion during viewing of all stimuli. We found that, in the absence of any motion signals, patterns of brain activity differed between states of motion perception and nonperception. Furthermore, when subjects perceived motion, activity states within the brain did not differ across stimuli of different amounts of embedded motion. In contrast, we found that during periods of nonperception brain-activity states varied with the amount of motion signal embedded in the stimulus. Taken together, these results suggest that during perception the brain may lock into a stable state in which lower-level signals are suppressed.