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Measuring Subjective Visual Perception in the Nonhuman Primate

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Abstract:

Understanding how activity in the brain leads to a subjective percept is of great interest to philosophers and neuroscientists alike. In the last years, neurophysiological experiments have approached this problem directly by measuring neural signals in animals as they experience well-defined visual percepts. Stimuli in these studies are often inherently ambiguous, and thus rely upon the subjective report, generally from trained monkeys, to provide a measure of perception. By correlating activity levels in the brain to this report, one can speculate on the role of individual neurons and groups of neurons in the formation and maintenance of a particular percept. However, in order to draw valid conclusions from such experiments, it is critical that the responses accurately and reliably reflect what is perceived. For this reason, a number of behavioural paradigms have been developed to control and evaluate the truthfulness of responses from behaving animals. Here we describe several approaches to optimizing the reliability of a monkey's perceptual report, and argue that their combination provides an invaluable approach in the study of subjective visual perception.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Max Planck Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Spemannstrasse 38, 72076 Tübingen, Germany., Email: david.leopold@tuebingen.mpg.de

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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