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Tracking perceptual decision mechanisms through changes in interhemispheric functional connectivity in human visual cortex

Publication year 2019
Published in Scientific Reports
Authors Teresa Sousa, João V Duarte, Gabriel N Costa, Valentin G Kemper, Ricardo Martins, R. Goebel, Miguel Castelo-Branco

The role of long-range integration mechanisms underlying visual perceptual binding and their link to interhemispheric functional connectivity, as measured by fMRI, remains elusive. Only inferences on anatomical organization from resting state data paradigms not requiring coherent binding have been achieved. Here, we used a paradigm that allowed us to study such relation between perceptual interpretation and functional connectivity under bistable interhemispheric binding vs. non-binding of visual surfaces. Binding occurs by long-range perceptual integration of motion into a single object across hemifields and non-binding reflects opponent segregation of distinct moving surfaces into each hemifield. We hypothesized that perceptual integration vs. segregation of surface motion, which is achieved in visual area hMT+, is modulated by changes in interhemispheric connectivity in this region. Using 7T fMRI, we found that perceptual long-range integration of bistable motion can be tracked by changes in interhemispheric functional connectivity between left/right hMT+. Increased connectivity was tightly related with long-range perceptual integration. Our results indicate that hMT+ interhemispheric functional connectivity reflects perceptual decision, suggesting its pivotal role on long-range disambiguation of bistable physically constant surface motion. We reveal for the first time, at the scale of fMRI, a relation between interhemispheric functional connectivity and decision based perceptual binding.

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