1. Neuroscience
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Neural dynamics of visual ambiguity resolution by perceptual prior

  1. Matthew W Flounders
  2. Carlos González-García
  3. Richard Hardstone
  4. Biyu J He  Is a corresponding author
  1. New York University Langone Medical Center, United States
  2. Ghent University, Belgium
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e41861 doi: 10.7554/eLife.41861


Past experiences have enormous power in shaping our daily perception. Currently, dynamical neural mechanisms underlying this process remain mysterious. Exploiting a dramatic visual phenomenon, where a single experience of viewing a clear image allows instant recognition of a related degraded image, we investigated this question using MEG and 7 Tesla fMRI in humans. We observed that following the acquisition of perceptual priors, different degraded images are represented much more distinctly in neural dynamics starting from ~500 ms after stimulus onset. Content-specific neural activity related to stimulus-feature processing dominated within 300 ms after stimulus onset, while content-specific neural activity related to recognition processing dominated from 500 ms onward. Model-driven MEG-fMRI data fusion revealed the spatiotemporal evolution of neural activities involved in stimulus, attentional, and recognition processing. Together, these findings shed light on how experience shapes perceptual processing across space and time in the brain.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Matthew W Flounders

    Neuroscience Institute, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Carlos González-García

    Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6627-5777
  3. Richard Hardstone

    Neuroscience Institute, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Biyu J He

    Neuroscience Institute, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1549-1351


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

  • Biyu J He

Klingenstein-Simons Neuroscience Fellowship

  • Biyu J He

Department of State Fulbright program

  • Carlos González-García

National Science Foundation (BCS-1753218)

  • Biyu J He

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: The experiment was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (under protocol #14-N-0002). All subjects provided written informed consent.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Christian Büchel, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: September 9, 2018
  2. Accepted: February 25, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 7, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 13, 2019 (version 2)


© 2019, Flounders et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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