Plasticity and neuromodulation of the extended recurrent visual network

Di Luzio, Paolo (2022) Plasticity and neuromodulation of the extended recurrent visual network, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Psicologia, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10158.
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The extended visual network, which includes occipital, temporal and parietal posterior cortices, is a system characterized by an intrinsic connectivity consisting of bidirectional projections. This network is composed of feedforward and feedback projections, some hierarchically arranged and others bypassing intermediate areas, allowing direct communication across early and late stages of processing. Notably, the early visual cortex (EVC) receives considerably more feedback and lateral inputs than feedforward thalamic afferents, placing it at the receiving end of a complex cortical processing cascade, rather than just being the entrance stage of cortical processing of retinal input. The critical role of back-projections to visual cortices has been related to perceptual awareness, amplification of neural activity in lower order areas and improvement of stimulus processing. Recently, significant results have shown behavioural evidence suggesting the importance of reentrant projections in the human visual system, and demonstrated the feasibility of inducing their reversible modulation through a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) paradigm named cortico-cortical paired associative stimulation (ccPAS). Here, a novel research line for the study of recurrent connectivity and its plasticity in the perceptual domain was put forward. In the present thesis, we used ccPAS with the aim of empowering the synaptic efficacy, and thus the connectivity, between the nodes of the visuocognitive system to evaluate the impact on behaviour. We focused on driving plasticity in specific networks entailing the elaboration of relevant social features of human faces (Chapters I & II), alongside the investigation of targeted pathways of sensory decisions (Chapter III). This allowed us to characterize perceptual outcomes which endorse the prominent role of the EVC in visual awareness, fulfilled by the activity of back-projections originating from distributed functional nodes.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Di Luzio, Paolo
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, cortical plasticity, feedback connectivity, visual system, neuromodulation, face perception, decision-making, perceptual awareness.
Data di discussione
16 Giugno 2022

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