Neural interactions between flicker-induced self-organized visual hallucinations and physical stimuli

In Alpha Waves, Articles, Beta Waves, Research by Vincent A. Billock & Brian H. Tsou

Spontaneous pattern formation in cortical activity may have consequences for perception, but little is known about interaction between sensory-driven and self-organized cortical activity. To address this deficit, we explored the relationship between ordinary stimulus-controlled pattern perception and the autonomous hallucinatory geometrical pattern formation that occurs for unstructured visual stimulation (e.g., empty-field flicker). We found that flicker-induced hallucinations are biased by the presentation of adjacent geometrical stimuli; geometrical forms that map to cortical area V1 as orthogonal gratings are perceptually opponent inbiasing hallucinations. Rotating fan blades and pulsating circular patterns are the most salient biased hallucinations.

Apparent motion and fractal noise are also effective in driving hallucinatory pattern formation (the latter is consistent with predictions of spatiotemporal pattern formation driven by stochastic resonance). The behavior of these percepts suggests that self-organized hallucinatory pattern formation in human vision is governed by the same cortical properties of localized processing, lateral inhibition, simultaneous contrast, and nonlinear retinotopic mapping that govern ordinary vision…

Read the full article here National Academy of Sciences (pdf)