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 Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>