abstract Heleen A. Slagter

Heleen A. Slagter (Cognition and Plasticity Laboratory, Dept of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Gating of information by the striatum contributes to conscious perception

Conscious perception is robustly associated with sustained, recurrent interactions between widespread cortical regions. Yet, the neural processes controlling access to awareness are still very much unclear. I will (1) briefly review evidence suggesting that the striatum is well positioned to integrate the massively parallel and distributed information capacity of the cerebral cortex into the limited-capacity, sequential mode of operation required for coherent perception, and (2) present findings supporting the idea that conscious perception relies on striatum-dependent gating mechanisms. Specifically, using intracranial EEG recordings from the ventral striatum during an attentional blink task, we found that the failure to perceive the second of two targets (T1 and T2) was foreshadowed by a T1-induced increase in alpha and low beta oscillatory activity as early as 80ms post-T1. Moreover, only consciously perceived targets induced theta activity between 215-400ms.These unique findings shed new light on the mechanisms that give rise to the attentional blink by revealing that conscious target perception may be determined by T1 processing at a much earlier processing stage than traditionally believed. More generally, they indicate that striatal activity may contribute to conscious perception, presumably by gating cortical information flow.