Energy landscape and dynamics of brain activity during human bistable perception

Takamitsu Watanabe, Naoki Masuda, Fukuda Magumi, Ryota Kanai, Geraint Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)


Individual differences in the structure of parietal and prefrontal cortex predict the stability of bistable visual perception. However, the mechanisms linking such individual differences in brain structures to behavior remain elusive. Here we demonstrate a systematic relationship between the dynamics of brain activity, cortical structure and behavior underpinning bistable perception. Using fMRI in
humans, we find that the activity dynamics during bistable perception are well described as fluctuating between three spatially distributed energy minimums: visual-area-dominant, frontal-area-dominant, and intermediate states. Transitions between these energy minimums predicted behavior, with participants whose brain activity tend to reflect the visual-area-dominant state exhibiting more stable perception and those whose activity transition to frontal-area-dominant states reporting more frequent perceptual switches. Critically, these brain activity dynamics are correlated with individual differences in grey matter volume of the corresponding brain areas. Thus, individual differences in the large-scale dynamics of brain activity link focal brain structure with bistable perception.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4765
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2014

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