Background: This study investigates the effect of altered auditory feedback (AAF) in musician's dystonia (MD) and discusses whether altered auditory feedback can be considered as a sensory trick in MD. Furthermore, the effect of AAF is compared with altered tactile feedback, which can serve as a sensory trick in several other forms of focal dystonia. Methods: The method is based on scale analysis (Jabusch et al. 2004). Experiment 1 employs synchronization paradigm: 12 MD patients and 25 healthy pianists (...) had to repeatedly play C-major scales in synchrony with a metronome on a MIDI-piano with 3 auditory feedback conditions: 1. normal feedback; 2. no feedback; 3. constant delayed feedback. Experiment 2 employs synchronization-continuation paradigm: 12 MD patients and 12 healthy pianists had to repeatedly play C-major scales in two phases: first in synchrony with a metronome, secondly continue the established tempo without the metronome. There are 4 experimental conditions, among them 3 are the same altered auditory feedback as in Experiment 1 and 1 is related to altered tactile sensory input. The coefficient of variation of inter-onset intervals of the key depressions was calculated to evaluate fine motor control. Results: In both experiments, the healthy controls and the patients behaved very similarly. There is no difference in the regularity of playing between the two groups under any condition, and neither did AAF nor did altered tactile feedback have a beneficial effect on patients’ fine motor control. Conclusions: The results of the two experiments suggest that in the context of our experimental designs, AAF and altered tactile feedback play a minor role in motor coordination in patients with musicians' dystonia. We propose that altered auditory and tactile feedback do not serve as effective sensory tricks and may not temporarily reduce the symptoms of patients suffering from MD in this experimental context. (shrink)
While performing an action, the timing of when the sensory feedback is given can be used to establish the causal link between the action and its consequence. It has been shown that delaying the visual feedback while carrying an object makes people feel the mass of the object to be greater, suggesting that the feedback timing can also impact the perceived quality of an external object. In this study, we investigated the origin of the feedback timing information that influences (...) the mass perception of the external object. Participants made a straight reaching movement while holding a manipulandum. The movement of the manipulandum was presented as a cursor movement on a monitor. In Experiment 1, various delays were imposed between the actual trajectory and the cursor movement. The participants’ perceived mass of the manipulandum significantly increased as the delay increased to 400 ms, but this gain did not reach significance when the delay was 800 ms. This suggests the existence of a temporal tuning mechanism for incorporating the visual feedback into the perception of mass. In Experiment 2, we examined whether the increased mass perception during the visual delay was due to the prediction error of the visual consequence of an action or to the actual delay of the feedback itself. After the participants adapted to the feedback delay, the perceived mass of the object became lighter than before, indicating that updating the temporal prediction model for the visual consequence diminishes the overestimation of the object’s mass. We propose that the misattribution of the visual delay into mass perception is induced by the sensorimotor prediction error, possibly when the amount of delay (error) is within the range that can reasonably include the consequence of an action. (shrink)
Previous studies have demonstrated a great uncertainty in evaluating one's own voluntary actions when visual feedback is suspended. We now compare these limitations in younger and older adults during active or passive limb movements. Participants put their dominant hand on a robot arm and performed movements actively or the relaxed limb was moved passively. Either a distorted visual feedback or no visual feedback at all was provided during the movement. Perception of limb movements was attenuated through visual feedback. This effect (...) was more pronounced in older adults. However, no difference between active and passive movements was found. The results provide evidence for the limited awareness of body effects, even in the absence of voluntary actions. (shrink)
Spoken language exists because of a remarkable neural process. Inside a speaker’s brain, an intended message gives rise to neural signals activating the muscles of the vocal tract. The process is remarkable because these muscles are activated in just the right way that the vocal tract produces sounds a listener understands as the intended message. What is the best approach to understanding the neural substrate of this crucial motor control process? One of the key recent modeling developments in neuroscience has (...) been the use of state feedback control (SFC) theory to explain the role of the CNS in motor control. SFC postulates that the CNS controls motor output by (1) estimating the current dynamic state of the thing (e.g., arm) being controlled, and (2) generating controls based on this estimated state. SFC has successfully predicted a great range of non-speech motor phenomena, but as yet has not received attention in the speech motor control community. Here, we review some of the key characteristics of speech motor control and what they say about the role of the CNS in the process. We then discuss prior efforts to model the role of CNS in speech motor control, and argue that these models have inherent limitations – limitations that are overcome by an SFC model of speech motor control which we describe. We conclude by discussing a plausible neural substrate of our model. (shrink)
We suggest that the cerebellum generates sensory or estimates based on outgoing motor commands and sensory feedback. Thus, it is not a motor pattern generator (HOUK et al.) but a predictive system which is intimately involved in motor behavior. This theory may explain the sensitivity of the climbing fibers to both unexpected external events and motor errors (SIMPSON et al.), and we speculate that unusual biophysical properties of the inferior olive might allow the cerebellum to develop multiple asynchronous (...)sensory estimates, [HOUK et al.; SIMPSON et al.; THACH]. (shrink)
In tactile-visual sensory substitution (TVSS), images from a video camera are converted into patterns of vibrotactile stimulation that visually impaired subjects can use to perform tasks ordinarily guided by seeing. A main finding in early experiments conducted by Paul Bach-y-Rita and colleagues is that subjects equipped with a TVSS device engaged in distal attribution – attributed the cause of the stimulations they received to objects in the external, three-dimensional scene – only when they had active control over how the (...) camera moved. Subjects who received visual input passively experienced only a changing pattern of tactile stimulation. Why was this the case? According to proponents of the sensorimotor contingency theory, active control of the camera is necessary for the emergence of distal attribution because it enables the subject to acquire knowledge of the laws of sensorimotor contingency that govern use of the TVSS device. This chapter, by contrast, approaches distal attribution as a solution to a causal inference problem faced by the subject’s perceptual systems. Given all of the available endogenous and exogenous evidence available to those systems, what is the most probable source of stimulation in the substituting modality? From this perspective, active control over the camera’s movements matters for rather different reasons. First, when the subject is unaware of how (or even whether) the camera is moving, all of the evidence at her disposal is consistent with the default haptic interpretation of incoming vibrotactile stimulation: the most probable cause of that stimulation is bodily contact with an object of some kind. It is thus unsurprising that a passively stimulated subject does not learn to discriminate the spatial layout of the external scene by means of TVSS. Second, when the subject has the ability to guide camera movement, she also has a significant amount of voluntary control over whether and how incoming vibrotactile stimulation undergoes change. In consequence, the situation is now one that conflicts with the default haptic interpretation: it is not typically possible to modify sensations on the surface of one’s back by moving a camera mounted on a tripod or on one’s head. Last, active control over the camera’s movements generates proprioceptive and efference-copy based information about the camera’s body-relative position necessary to make use of the spatial cues present in the stimulation that the subject receives for purposes of egocentric object localization. (shrink)
The strategies of action employed by a human subject in order to perceive simple 2-D forms on the basis of tactile sensory feedback have been modelled by an explicit computer algorithm. The modelling process has been constrained and informed by the capacity of human subjects both to consciously describe their own strategies, and to apply explicit strategies; thus, the strategies effectively employed by the human subject have been influenced by the modelling process itself. On this basis, good qualitative and (...) semi-quantitative agreement has been achieved between the trajectories produced by a human subject, and the traces produced by a computer algorithm. The advantage of this reciprocal modelling option, besides facilitating agreement between the algorithm and the empirically observed trajectories, is that the theoretical model provides an explanation, and not just a description, of the active perception of the human subject. (shrink)
Despite the recent surge in research on, and interest in, synesthesia, the mechanism underlying this condition is still unknown. Feedforward mechanisms involving overlapping receptive fields of sensory neurons as well as feedback mechanisms involving a lack of signal disinhibition have been proposed. Here I show that a broad range of studies of developmental synesthesia indicate that the mechanism underlying the phenomenon may involve reinstatement of brain activity in different sensory or cognitive streams in a way that is similar (...) to what happens during memory retrieval of semantically associated items. In the paper’s final sections I look at the relevance of synesthesia research, given the memory model, to our understanding of multisensory perception and common mapping patterns. (shrink)
The senses can completely dispel rational grounds for a certain kind of doubt, empirical doubt, but they cannot dispel another kind, sceptical doubt. In the first part of this paper, a hitherto unrecognized kind of knowledge-gathering activity, called sensory exploration, is described and discussed. It is argued, further, that sensory exploration eliminates a certain kind of doubt. In the second part, two kinds of doubt are distinguished in an original way. It is argued that only one of these (...) kinds of doubt can be eliminated by sensory exploration. (shrink)
The consensus in contemporary philosophy of mind is that how a perceptual experience represents the world to be is built into its sensory phenomenology. I defend an opposing view which I call ‘moderate separatism’, that an experience's sensory phenomenology does not determine how it represents the world to be. I argue for moderate separatism by pointing to two ordinary experiences which instantiate the same sensory phenomenology but differ with regard to their intentional content. Two experiences of an (...) object reflected in a mirror can possess the same spatial phenomenology while representing that object to occupy different spatial locations. So, contrary to the current consensus, the representation of spatial location is not fixed by an experience's sensory phenomenology. (shrink)
Is the brain the biological substrate of consciousness? Most naturalistic philosophers of mind have supposed that the answer must obviously be «yes » to this question. However, a growing number of philosophers working in 4e (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive) cognitive science have begun to challenge this assumption, arguing instead that consciousness supervenes on the whole embodied animal in dynamic interaction with the environment. We call views that share this claim dynamic sensorimotor theories of consciousness (DSM). Clark (2009) a founder and (...) leading proponent of the hypothesis of the extended mind, demurs, arguing that as matter of fact the biology of consciousness doesn’t allow for a brain, body and world boundary crossing architecture. We begin by looking at one of the arguments for DSM, the variable neural correlates argument. We then outline two criticisms that Clark has made of this argument and endorse his criticisms. However we finish up by using the case of sensory substitution to argue that something of this argument for DSM nevertheless survives. We suggest that Clark ought to concede sensory substitution as a case in which the conscious mind extends. (shrink)
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011: 1. What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration? 2. Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal? 3. How should we model the unity of consciousness? 4. Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal? 5. How Should We Study Experience, Given Unity Relations?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal?
What if a blind person could 'see' with her ears? Thanks to Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs), blind people now have access to out-of-reach objects, a privilege reserved so far for the sighted. In this paper, we show that the philosophical debates have fundamentally been mislead to think that SSDs should be fitted among the existing senses or that they constitute a new sense. Contrary to the existing assumption that they get integrated at the sensory level, we present a (...) new thesis according to which they are not sensory, and get vertically integrated on the top of existing sensory abilities, from which they should be theoretically distinguished. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal?
Theories of binding have recently come into the focus of the consciousness debate. In this review, we discuss the potential relevance of temporal binding mechanisms for sensory awareness. Specifically, we suggest that neural synchrony with a precision in the millisecond range may be crucial for conscious processing, and may be involved in arousal, perceptual integration, attentional selection and working memory. Recent evidence from both animal and human studies demonstrates that specific changes in neuronal synchrony occur during all of these (...) processes and that they are distinguished by the emergence of fast oscillations with frequencies in the gamma-range. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we study experience, given unity relations?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we model the unity of consciousness?
This paper considers the importance of the body for self-esteem, communication, and emotional expression and experience, through the reflections of those who live with various neurological impairments of movement and sensation; sensory deafferentation, spinal cord injury and Möbius Syndrome (the congenital absence of facial expression). People with severe sensory loss, who require conscious attention and visual feedback for movement, describe the imperative to use the same strategies to reacquire gesture, to appear normal and have embodied expression. Those paralysed (...) after spinal cord injury struggle to have others see them as people rather than as people in wheelchairs and have been active in the disability movement, distinguishing between their medical impairment and the social induced disability others project onto them. Lastly those with Möbius reveal the importance of the face for emotional expression and communication and indeed for emotional experience itself. All these examples explore the crucial role of the body as agent for social and personal expression and self-esteem. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference at the British Academy in March of 2013. This portion of the report explores the question: How does sensory substitution interact with the brain’s architecture?
This is an excerpt from a report on the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference at the British Academy in March of 2013. This portion of the report explores the question: What can sensory substitution tell us about perceptual learning?
Several recent accounts claim that imagination is a matter of simulating perceptual acts. Although this point of view receives support from both phenomenological and empirical research, I claim that Jean-Paul Sartre's worry formulated in L'imagination (1936) still holds. For a number of reasons, Sartre heavily criticizes theories in which the sensory material of imaginative acts consists in reviving sensory impressions. Based on empirical and philosophical insights, this article explains how simulation theories of imagination can overcome Sartre's critique by (...) paying attention to the motor dimension of imagination. Intending to clarify the status of the sensory in imagination, a motor theory of imagination is presented in which the sensory component of imagination is interpreted in terms of anticipated sensory consequences of preparation for motor action. (shrink)
In ‘Of Sensory Systems and the “Aboutness” of Mental States’, Kathleen Akins (1996) argues against what she calls ‘the traditional view’ about sensory systems, according to which they are detectors of features in the environment outside the organism. As an antidote, she considers the case of thermoreception, a system whose sensors send signals about how things stand with themselves and their immediate dermal surround (a ‘narcissistic’ sensory system); and she closes by suggesting that the signals from many (...)sensory systems may not in any familiar sense be about anything at all. Her presentation of the issues, however, overlooks resources available to ‘the traditional view’—or so I shall argue. Akins’s own thumbnail sketch of what is wrong with the traditional view is that it asks, concerning a given sensory system, ‘what is it detecting?’, when we should instead be asking ‘what is it doing?’ (352). Her point is that on the traditional view the function of a sensory system—what it's ‘for’—is to detect or indicate (values of) features of the outside environment. But at least on one version of the traditional view—namely Ruth Millikan’s—this would never be the sole or main proper function of a sensory system. (Akins does not list Millikan as a traditionalist, but Millikan fits squarely Akins’s description of them, since she believes in a naturalistic theory of aboutness and thinks it should begin with the senses.) For Millikan (1989, 1993), the proper function of a sensory system is in the first instance enabling behavioural systems—in the simplest case, motor routines—to perform their proper function. This they do, roughly, by switching on and steering the behavioural routines. Where features of the outside environment come in is as Normal (= assumed-by-the-design) conditions for the successful performance of the sensory system's proper function. That is, the only strategy for switching on and steering that is simple enough for evolution to have hit upon it, and reliable enough for evolution to have liked it, is a strategy which gears the steering to (values of) features of the outside environment. But as soon as one starts fleshing out the details of this story, one notices that they are probably quite different in the case of thermoreception from how they are with ‘distance’ senses such as vision and olfaction--a point which Akins overlooks.. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference at the British Academy in March of 2013. This portion of the report explores the question: Does sensory substitution generate perceptual or cognitive states?
This is an excerpt from a report on the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference at the British Academy in March of 2013. This portion of the report explores the question: Can normal non-sensory feelings be generated through sensory substitution?
Sensory substitution devices provide through an unusual sensory modality (the substituting modality, e.g., audition) access to features of the world that are normally accessed through another sensory modality (the substituted modality, e.g., vision). In this article, we address the question of which sensory modality the acquired perception belongs to. We have recourse to the four traditional criteria that have been used to define sensory modalities: sensory organ, stimuli, properties, and qualitative experience (Grice, 1962), to (...) which we have added the criteria of behavioral equivalence (Morgan, 1977), dedication (Keeley, 2002), and sensorimotor equivalence (O’Regan & Noe¨, 2001). We discuss which of them are fulfilled by perception through sensory substitution devices and whether this favors the view that perception belongs to the substituting or to the substituted modality. Though the application of a number of criteria might be taken to point to the conclusion that perception with a sensory substitution device belongs to the substituted modality, we argue that the evidence leads to an alternative view on sensory substitution. According to this view, the experience after sensory substitution is a transformation, extension, or augmentation of our perceptual capacities, rather than being something equivalent or reducible to an already existing sensory modality. We develop this view by comparing sensory substitution devices to other ‘‘mind-enhancing tools’’ such as pen and paper, sketchpads, or calculators. An analysis of sensory substitution in terms of mind-enhancing tools unveils it as a thoroughly transforming perceptual experience and as giving rise to a novel form of perceptual interaction with the environment. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference at the British Academy in March of 2013. This portion of the report explores the question: What are the limitations of sensory substitution.
Social psychologists have evidence that evaluative feedback on others’ choices sometimes has unwelcome negative effects on hearers’ motivation. Holroyd’s article (Holroyd J. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 10:267–278, 2007) draws attention to one such result, the undermining effect, that should help to challenge moral philosophers’ complacency about blame and praise. The cause for concern is actually greater than she indicates, both because there are multiple kinds of negative effect on hearer motivation, and because these are not, as she hopes, reliably counteracted (...) by implicit features of praise and blame. The communicative ideal that she articulates does point us in the right direction, but it requires further elaboration. Once it is spelled out, we find that realizing this ideal, in light of the empirical research, requires rethinking the role of verdict-like judgments within moral feedback. (shrink)
Enacted theories of consciousness conjecture that perception and cognition arise from an active experience of the regular relations that are tying together the sensory stimulation of different modalities and associated motor actions. Previous experiments investigated this concept by employing the technique of sensory substitution. Building on these studies, here we test a set of hypotheses derived from this framework and investigate the utility of sensory augmentation in handicapped people. We provide a late blind subject with a new (...) set of sensorimotor laws: A vibro-tactile belt continually signals the direction of magnetic north. The subject completed a set of behavioral tests before and after an extended training period. The tests were complemented by questionnaires and interviews. This newly supplied information improved performance on different time scales. In a pointing task we demonstrate an instant improvement of performance based on the signal provided by the device. Furthermore, the signal was helpful in relevant daily tasks, often complicated for the blind, such as keeping a direction over longer distances or taking shortcuts in familiar environments. A homing task with an additional attentional load demonstrated a significant improvement after training. The subject found the directional information highly expedient for the adjustment of his inner maps of familiar environments and describes an increase in his feeling of security when exploring unfamiliar environments with the belt. The results give evidence for a firm integration of the newly supplied signals into the behavior of this late blind subject with better navigational performance and more courageous behavior in unfamiliar environments. Most importantly, the complementary information provided by the belt lead to a positive emotional impact with enhanced feeling of security. This experimental approach demonstrates the potential of sensory augmentation devices for the help of handicapped people. (shrink)
Daily our central nervous system receives inputs via several sensory modalities, processes them and integrates information in order to produce a suitable behaviour. The amazing part is that such a multisensory integration brings all information into a unified percept. An approach to start investigating this property is to show that perception is better and faster when multimodal stimuli are used as compared to unimodal stimuli. This forms the first part of the present study conducted in a non-human primate’s model (...) (n=2) engaged in a detection sensory-motor task where visual and auditory stimuli were displayed individually or simultaneously. The measured parameters were the reaction time (RT) between stimulus and onset of arm movement, successes and errors percentages, as well as the evolution as a function of time of these parameters with training. As expected, RTs were shorter when the subjects were exposed to combined stimuli. The gains for both subjects were around 20 and 40 msec, as compared with the auditory and visual stimulus alone, respectively. Moreover the number of correct responses increased in response to bimodal stimuli. We interpreted such multisensory advantage through redundant signal effect which decreases perceptual ambiguity, increases speed of stimulus detection and improves performance accuracy. The second part of the study presents single unit recordings derived from the premotor cortex (PM) of the same subjects during the sensory-motor task. Response patterns to sensory/multisensory stimulation are documented and specific type proportions are reported. Characterization of bimodal neurons indicates a mechanism of audio-visual integration possibly through a decrease of inhibition. Nevertheless the neural processing leading to faster motor response from PM as a polysensory association cortical area remains still unclear. (shrink)
How can self-knowledge of personality be improved? What path is the most fruitful source for learning about our true selves? Previous research has noted two main avenues for learning about the self: looking inward (e.g., introspection) and looking outward (e.g., feedback). Although most of the literature on these topics does not directly measure the accuracy of self-perceptions (i.e., self-knowledge), we review these paths and their potential for improving self-knowledge. We come to the conclusion that explicit feedback, a largely unexamined path, (...) is likely a fruitful avenue for learning about one’s own personality. Specifically, we suggest that self-knowledge might be fully realized through the use of explicit feedback from close, knowledgeable others. As such, we conclude that the road to self-knowledge likely cannot be traveled alone but must be traveled with close others who can help shed light on our blind spots. (shrink)
Early food regimes literature tended to concentrate on the global scale analysis of implicitly negative trends in global food relations. In recent years, early food regimes authors like Harriet Friedmann and Philip McMichael have begun to consider the sites of resistance, difference and opportunity that have been emerging around, and into contestation with, new food regime relations. This paper examines the emerging global-scale governance mechanism of environmental food auditing—particularly those being promoted by supermarkets and other large food retailers—as an important (...) new dynamic in our understanding of the politics and potentials of food regimes. Commencing with an examination of Friedmann’s corporate environmental food regime, two key dynamics are identified as being pivotal in the rise and decline of global-scale regimes: securing social legitimacy for food relations and the importance of ecological dynamics in global food relations. By extending McMichael’s notion of ‘Food from Nowhere’ versus ‘Food from Somewhere’, the paper interrogates the emergence of a cluster of relations that comprise ‘Food from Somewhere’ and examines whether this cluster of relations has the potential to change some of the constituent ecological dynamics of food regimes. These ecological dynamics have historically been problematic, amply demonstrating Marx’s metabolic rift as the early food regimes solidified relationships between ‘ecologies at a distance’. By using socio-ecological resilience theory, ‘Food from Somewhere’ is characterized as having denser ecological feedbacks and a more complex information flow in comparison to the invisibility and distanciation characterizing earlier regimes as well as contemporary ‘Food from Nowhere’. The conclusion of this article is that while ‘Food from Somewhere’ does provide one site of opportunity for changing some key food relations and ecologies, the social legitimacy of this new form of food relations does rely on the ongoing existence of the opposite, more regressive, pole of world food relations. The key question for resolving this tension appears to be whether new food relations can open up spaces for future, more ecologically connected, global-scale food relations. (shrink)
An efficient and fast auditory–motor network is a basic resource for trained musicians due to the importance of motor anticipation of sound production in musical performance. When playing an instrument, motor performance always goes along with the production of sounds and the integration between both modalities plays an essential role in the course of musical training. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of task-irrelevant auditory feedback during motor performance in musicians using a serial reaction time (...) task (SRTT). Our hypothesis was that musicians, due to their extensive auditory–motor practice routine during musical training, have a superior performance and learning capabilities when receiving auditory feedback during SRTT relative to musicians performing the SRTT without any auditory feedback. Here we provide novel evidence that task-irrelevant auditory feedback is capable to reinforce SRTT performance but not learning, a finding that might provide further insight into auditory-motor integration in musicians on a behavioral level. (shrink)
How does the brain bind together visual features that are processed concurrently by different neurons into a unified percept suitable for processes such as object recognition? Here, we describe how simple, commonly accepted principles of neural processing can interact over time to solve the brain's binding problem. We focus on mechanisms of neural inhibition and top-down feedback. Specifically, we describe how inhibition creates competition among neural populations that code different features, effectively suppressing irrelevant information, and thus minimizing illusory conjunctions. Top-down (...) feedback contributes to binding in a similar manner, but by reinforcing relevant features. Together, inhibition and top-down feedback contribute to a competitive environment that ensures only the most appropriate features are bound together. We demonstrate this overall proposal using a biologically realistic neural model of vision that processes features across a hierarchy of interconnected brain areas. Finally, we argue that temporal synchrony plays only a limited role in binding -- it does not simultaneously bind multiple objects, but does aid in creating additional contrast between relevant and irrelevant features. Thus, our overall theory constitutes a solution to the binding problem that relies only on simple neural principles without any binding-specific processes. (shrink)
Determining if we, or another agent, were responsible for a sensory event can require an accurate sense of timing. Our sense of appropriate timing relationships must, however, be malleable as there is a variable delay between the physical timing of an event and when sensory signals concerning that event are encoded in the brain. One dramatic demonstration of such malleability involves having people repeatedly press a button thereby causing a beep. If a delay is inserted between button presses (...) and beeps, when it is subsequently taken away beeps can seem to precede the button presses that caused them. For this to occur it is important that people feel they were responsible for instigating the beeps. In terms of their timing, as yet it is not clear what combination of events is important for motor-sensory temporal recalibration. Here, by introducing ballistic reaches, of short or longer extent before a button press, we varied the delay between the intention to act and the sensory consequence of that action. This manipulation failed to modulate recalibration magnitude. By contrast, introducing a similarly lengthened delay between button presses and consequent beeps eliminated recalibration. Thus it would seem that the critical timing relationship for motor-sensory temporal recalibration is between tactile signals relating to the completion of an action and the subsequent auditory percept. (shrink)
Olfactory information is critical to mammalian sexual behavior. Based on parental investment theory the relative importance of olfaction compared with vision, touch, and hearing should be different for human males and females. In particular, because of its link to immunological profile and offspring viability, odor should be a more important determinant of sexual choice and arousal for females than for males. To test this hypothesis a questionnaire was developed and administered to 332 adults (166 males, 166 females). Subjects used a (...) 1–7 scale to indicate how much they agreed with a series of statements concerning the importance of olfactory, visual, auditory, and tactile information for their sexual responsivity. The data reveal that males rated visual and olfactory information as being equally important for selecting a lover, while females considered olfactory information to be the single most important variable in mate choice. Additionally, when considering sexual activity, females singled out body odor from all other sensory experiences as most able to negatively affect desire, while males regarded odors as much more neutral stimuli for sexual arousal. The present results support recent findings in mice and humans concerning the relation of female preferences in body odor and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) compatibility and can be explained by an evolutionary analysis of sex differences in reproductive strategies. This work represents the first direct examination of the role of different forms of sensory information in human sexual behavior. (shrink)
Disturbances in feedback processing and a dysregulation of the neural circuit in which the cingulate cortex plays a key role have been frequently observed in depression. Since depression is a heterogeneous disease, instead of focusing on the depressive state in general, this study investigated the relations between the two core symptoms of depression, i.e., depressed mood and anhedonia, and the neural correlates of feedback processing using fMRI. The focus was on the different subdivisions of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Undergraduates (...) with varying levels of depressed mood and anhedonia performed a time-estimation task in which they received positive and negative feedback that was either valid or invalid (i.e., related vs. unrelated to actual performance). The rostral cingulate zone (RCZ), corresponding to the dorsal part of the ACC, was less active in response to feedback in more anhedonic individuals, after correcting for the influence of depressed mood, whereas the subgenual ACC was more active in these individuals. Task performance was not affected by anhedonia, however. No statistically significant effects were found for depressed mood above and beyond the effects of anhedonia. This study therefore implies that increasing levels of anhedonia involve changes in the neural circuitry underlying feedback processing. (shrink)
Re-entrant feedback, either within sensory cortex or arising from prefrontal areas, has been strongly linked to the emergence of consciousness, both in theoretical and experimental work. This idea, together with evidence for local micro-consciousness, suggests the generation of qualia could in some way result from local network activity under re-entrant activation. This paper explores the possibility by examining the processing of information by local cortical networks. It highlights the difference between the information structure (how the information is physically embodied), (...) and the information message (what the information is about). It focuses on the network’s ability to recognise information structures amongst its inputs under conditions of extensive local feedback, and to then assign information messages to those structures. It is shown that if the re-entrant feedback enables the network to achieve an attractor state, then the message assigned in any given pass of information through the network is a representation of the message assigned in the previous pass-through of information. Based on this ability the paper argues that as information is repeatedly cycled through the network, the information message that is assigned evolves from a recognition of what the input structure is, to what it is like, to how it appears, to how it seems. It could enable individual networks to be the site of qualia generation. The paper goes on to show networks in cortical layers 2/3 and 5a have the connectivity required for the behaviour proposed, and reviews some evidence for a link between such local cortical cyclic activity and conscious percepts. It concludes with some predictions based on the theory discussed. (shrink)
In recent years, produce obtained from organic farming methods (i.e. a system that minimizes pollution and avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) has rapidly increased in developed countries. This may be explained by the fact that organic food meets the standard requirements for quality and healthiness. Among organic products, wine has greatly attracted the interest of the consumers. In the present study, trained assessors and regular wine consumers were respectively required to identify the sensory properties (e.g. odor, (...) taste, flavor and mouthfeel sensations) and to evaluate the hedonic dimension of red wines deriving from organically and conventionally grown grapes. Results showed differences related mainly to taste (sour and bitter) and mouthfeel (astringent) sensations, with odor and flavor playing a minor role. However, these differences did not influence liking, as organic and conventional wines were hedonically comparable. Interestingly, 61% of respondents would be willing to pay more for organically produced wines, which suggests that environmentally sustainable practices related to wine quality have good market prospects. (shrink)
Capacity of using visual feedback by infants at the age of reaching onset has been controversial. In this investigation we assessed movement kinematics in the task of reaching for a toy in 5-month-olds, comparing movements performed with the preferred arm under full vision versus visual occlusion. That comparison was made in consecutive periods of visual occlusion. Analysis of results revealed that visual occlusion led to decreased straightness of arm displacement toward the toy as compared to full vision. Longer periods of (...) occlusion did not augment that effect. These results offer preliminary evidence for use of visual feedback early in infants’ reaching development. Reconciliation of previous and current findings is made by proposing a hybrid mode of feedback processing for manual control reweighting the roles of vision and proprioception as a function of availability of environmental information. (shrink)
Several recent studies have demonstrated that addicts behave less flexibly than healthy controls in the probabilistic reversal-learning task (PRLT), in which participants must gradually learn to choose between a probably-rewarded option and an improbably-rewarded one, on the basis of corrective feedback, and in which preferences must adjust to abrupt reward contingency changes (reversals). In the present study, pathological gamblers (PG) and cocaine-dependent individuals (CDI) showed different learning curves in the PRLT. PG also showed a reduced electroencephalographic response to feedback (Feedback-Related (...) Negativity, FRN) when compared to controls. CDI’s FRN was not significantly different either from PG or HC’s. Additionally, according to sLORETA analysis, cortical activity in regions of interest (previously selected by virtue of their involvement in FRN generation in controls) strongly differed between CDI and PG. However, the nature of such anomalies varied within-groups across individuals. Cocaine use severity had a strong deleterious impact on the learning asymptote, whereas gambling intensity significantly increased reversal cost. These two effects have remained confounded in most previous studies, which can be hiding important associative learning differences between different populations of addicts. (shrink)