September 29, 2021

Dissecting the Canonical Circuit of Bi-Stable Visual Perception

Ganna Palagina

Additional Authors: Stelios Smirnakis

We perceive the world as generally stable and reliable, even though sensory stimuli are ambiguous, and their perception is a probabilistic decision process reflecting the most likely interpretation of the inputs. Understanding how the brain decides upon the interpretation to guide the behavior, and then maintains this interpretation across changes in the environment and internal brain state is central to our understanding of the brain as a decision-making system. Viewing visual stimuli with several mutually exclusive interpretations causes subjective perception to vacillate between these interpretations, although the stimulus itself does not change. This multi-stable perception is an excellent well-controlled model for studying how the interpretations of ambiguous stimuli are decided upon and maintained by the brain on multiple levels of organization – from local to global circuit patterns of activity and through regulation of circuit dynamics by the internal brain state.

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