Human single neuron activity precedes emergence of conscious perception

Hagar Gelbard-Sagiv*, Liad Mudrik, Michael R. Hill, Christof Koch, Itzhak Fried

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identifying the neuronal basis of spontaneous changes in conscious experience in the absence of changes in the external environment is a major challenge. Binocular rivalry, in which two stationary monocular images lead to continuously changing perception, provides a unique opportunity to address this issue. We studied the activity of human single neurons in the medial temporal and frontal lobes while patients were engaged in binocular rivalry. Here we report that internal changes in the content of perception are signaled by very early (~-2000 ms) nonselective medial frontal activity, followed by selective activity of medial temporal lobe neurons that precedes the perceptual change by ~1000 ms. Such early activations are not found for externally driven perceptual changes. These results suggest that a medial fronto-temporal network may be involved in the preconscious internal generation of perceptual transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2057
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
Human Frontiers Research Program
Israel National Postdoctoral Award Program for Advancing Women in Science
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeR01NS084017, R01NS033221
G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation
Multiple Sclerosis Center of Atlanta
European Molecular Biology Organization
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme659765, 659759
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


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