Brain networks in human conscious visual perception

Date of Award

Fall 10-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

First Advisor

Blumenfeld, Hal


Consciousness is not explained by a single mechanism, rather it involves multiple specialized neural systems overlapping in space and time. We hypothesize that synergistic, large-scale subcortical and cortical attention and signal processing networks encode conscious experiences. To identify brain activity in conscious perception without overt report, we classified visual stimuli as perceived or not using eye measurements. Report-independent event-related potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals both occurred at early times after stimuli. Direct recordings revealed a novel thalamic awareness potential linked to conscious visual perception based on report. fMRI showed thalamic and cortical detection, arousal, attentional salience, task-positive, and default mode networks were involved independent of overt report. These findings identify a specific sequence of neural mechanisms in human conscious visual perception.

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