Nov 5, 2018

Human brain activity during mental imagery exhibits signatures of inference in a hierarchical generative model

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jesse L BreedloveThomas Naselaris

Abstract

Humans have long wondered about the function of mental imagery and its relationship to vision. Although visual representations are utilized during imagery, the computations they subserve are unclear. Building on a theory that treats vision as inference about the causes of sensory stimulation in an internal generative model, we propose that mental imagery is inference about the sensory consequences of predicted or remembered causes. The relation between these complementary inferences yields a relation between the brain activity patterns associated with imagery and vision. We show that this relation has the formal structure of an echo that makes encoding of imagined stimuli in low-level visual areas resemble the encoding of seen stimuli in higher areas. To test for evidence of this echo effect we developed imagery encoding models\---|a new tool for revealing how imagined stimuli are encoded in brain activity. We estimated imagery encoding models from brain activity measured with fMRI while human subjects imagined complex visual stimuli, and then compared these to visual encoding models estimated from a matched viewing experiment. Consistent with an echo effect, imagery encoding models in low-level visual areas exhibited decreased...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Vision
Brain
FMRI
Brain Activity
Entire Brodmann Areas 17 (Striate Cortex),18 (Parastriate Cortex) and 19 (Peristriate Cortex) of Occipital Lobe
Structure
Receptive Field
Immune System Processes
Visual Cortex
Imagery

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