Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why it doesn’t get dark when you blink

25.09.2018

Understanding how perception and memory interact

Every five seconds we close our eyes and blink to moisten them. During this brief moment no light falls on our retina yet it is not constantly dark and we continue to observe a stable picture of our environment. The brain seems to remember the percepts that have just happened.


Graphical representation of the human brain. The medial prefrontal cortex is highlighted in green. It shows the places where brain activity was measured.

Caspar M. Schwiedrzik


Dr. Caspar Schwiedrzik, neuroscientist at the German Primate Center and at the University Medical Center in Göttingen, Germany.

Karin Tilch

Caspar Schwiedrzik and Sandrin Sudmann, neuroscientists at the German Primate Center and the University Medical Center Göttingen, have in cooperation with colleagues from the United States performed studies on epilepsy patients to determine where this memory is situated in the brain and how it works. They have identified a brain area that plays a crucial role in perceptual memory. This finding enables a better understanding of the interaction of perception and memory (Current Biology).

Even though we constantly blink and move our head and eyes, we still see our world as a stable, unified whole. It must therefore be possible for the brain to retain visual information for a short period of time and then put it together to form a conclusive image without interruptions. Caspar Schwiedrzik and his team of neuroscientists suspected that a specific brain region known as the medial prefrontal cortex which plays an important role in short-term memory and decision-making may be a key player in this process.

At New York University the scientists had the opportunity to study this region of the brain in patients with epilepsy. To treat their disease, electrodes were temporarily implanted in the brain of these patients. Subjects were shown a dot lattice on a screen and were asked to indicate their perception of the orientation (for example horizontal or vertical) of the points.

They were then shown a second dot lattice and were asked to indicate the orientation of the points. If both orientations were the same, this was interpreted as an indication that the subjects used the information from the first round to establish a conclusive percept in the second round. While the subjects performed the task, their neural activity in the prefrontal cortex was recorded. In one of the subjects a section of the superior frontal gyrus was removed due to an earlier illness and she was unable to store the visual information.

"Our research shows that the medial prefrontal cortex calibrates current visual information with previously obtained information and thus enables us to perceive the world with more stability, even when we briefly close our eyes to blink," says Caspar Schwiedrzik, first author of the study and scientists at the German Primate Center and at the University Medical Center Göttingen.

This is not only true for blinking but also for higher cognitive functions. "Even when we see a facial expression, this information influences the perception of the expression on the next face that we look at," says Schwiedrzik.

"We were able to show that the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in perception and in context-dependent behavior," says Schwiedrzik, summarizing the findings of the study. In further studies, the researchers want to investigate, among other things, the role that confidence in one's own perception plays in perceptual memory.

Contact and suggestion for editors

Dr. Caspar M. Schwiedrzik
Phone: +49 (0) 551 39-12358
Email: cschwiedrzik@dpz.eu

Karin Tilch (Communication)
Phone: +49 (0) 551 3851-335
Email: ktilch@dpz.eu

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr. Caspar M. Schwiedrzik
Phone: +49 (0) 551 39-12358
Email: cschwiedrzik@dpz.eu

Originalpublikation:

Schwiedrzik C M et al. (2018): Medial prefrontal cortex supports perceptual memory. Current Biology 28, R1-R3, September 24, 2018

Weitere Informationen:

http://medien.dpz.eu/webgate/keyword.html?currentContainerId=4481 - Link to download printable pictures

Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht An ion channel with a doorkeeper: The pH of calcium ions controls ion channel opening
25.06.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Symbiotic upcycling: Turning “low value” compounds into biomass
25.06.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IDMT demonstrates its method for acoustic quality inspection at »Sensor+Test 2019« in Nürnberg

From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.

Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

For a better climate in the cities: Start-up develops maintenance-free, evergreen moss façades

25.06.2019 | Architecture and Construction

An ion channel with a doorkeeper: The pH of calcium ions controls ion channel opening

25.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Cooling with the sun

25.06.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>