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Zimmermann E.,University of Florence | Morrone M.C.,University of Pisa | Morrone M.C.,Scientific Institute Stella Maris IRCSS | Burr D.C.,University of Florence | Burr D.C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience
Behavioural Brain Research | Year: 2014

To interact rapidly and effectively with our environment, our brain needs access to a neural representation of the spatial layout of the external world. However, the construction of such a map poses major challenges, as the images on our retinae depend on where the eyes are looking, and shift each time we move our eyes, head and body to explore the world. Research from many laboratories including our own suggests that the visual system does compute spatial maps that are anchored to real-world coordinates. However, the construction of these maps takes time (up to 500. ms) and also attentional resources. We discuss research investigating how retinotopic reference frames are transformed into spatiotopic reference-frames, and how this transformation takes time to complete. These results have implications for theories about visual space coordinates and particularly for the current debate about the existence of spatiotopic representations. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Cicchini G.M.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Binda P.,University of Pisa | Binda P.,University of Washington | Burr D.C.,University of Florence | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Neurophysiology | Year: 2013

Eye movements pose major problems to the visual system, because each new saccade changes the mapping of external objects on the retina. It is known that stimuli briefly presented around the time of saccades are systematically mislocalized, whereas continuously visible objects are perceived as spatially stable even when they undergo large transsaccadic displacements. In this study we investigated the relationship between these two phenomena and measured how human subjects perceive the position of pairs of bars briefly displayed around the time of large horizontal saccades. We show that they interact strongly, with the perisaccadic bar being drawn toward the other, dramatically altering the pattern of perisaccadic mislocalization. The interaction field extends over a wide range (200 ms and 20°) and is oriented along the retinotopic trajectory of the saccade-induced motion, suggesting a mechanism that integrates pre- and postsaccadic stimuli at different retinal locations but similar external positions. We show how transient changes in spatial integration mechanisms, which are consistent with the present psychophysical results and with the properties of "remapping cells" reported in the literature, can create transient craniotopy by merging the distinct retinal images of the pre- and postsaccadic fixations to signal a single stable object. © 2013 the American Physiological Society.


Lunghi C.,University of Pisa | Lunghi C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Emir U.E.,University of Oxford | Morrone M.C.,University of Pisa | And 2 more authors.
Current Biology | Year: 2015

Summary Neuroplasticity is a fundamental property of the nervous system that is maximal early in life, within the critical period [1-3]. Resting GABAergic inhibition is necessary to trigger ocular dominance plasticity and to modulate the onset and offset of the critical period [4, 5]. GABAergic inhibition also plays a crucial role in neuroplasticity of adult animals: the balance between excitation and inhibition in the primary visual cortex (V1), measured at rest, modulates the susceptibility of ocular dominance to deprivation [6-10]. In adult humans, short-term monocular deprivation strongly modifies ocular balance, unexpectedly boosting the deprived eye, reflecting homeostatic plasticity [11, 12]. There is no direct evidence, however, to support resting GABAergic inhibition in homeostatic plasticity induced by visual deprivation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that GABAergic inhibition, measured at rest, is reduced by deprivation, as demonstrated by animal studies. GABA concentration in V1 of adult humans was measured using ultra-high-field 7T magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and after short-term monocular deprivation. After monocular deprivation, resting GABA concentration decreased in V1 but was unaltered in a control parietal area. Importantly, across participants, the decrease in GABA strongly correlated with the deprived eye perceptual boost measured by binocular rivalry. Furthermore, after deprivation, GABA concentration measured during monocular stimulation correlated with the deprived eye dominance. We suggest that reduction in resting GABAergic inhibition triggers homeostatic plasticity in adult human V1 after a brief period of abnormal visual experience. These results are potentially useful for developing new therapeutic strategies that could exploit the intrinsic residual plasticity of the adult human visual cortex. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.


Zimmermann E.,Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine | Morrone M.C.,University of Pisa | Morrone M.C.,Scientific Institute Stella Maris IRCSS | Burr D.C.,University of Florence | Burr D.C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience
Journal of Vision | Year: 2014

Visual objects presented around the time of saccadic eye movements are strongly mislocalized towards the saccadic target, a phenomenon known as ''saccadic compression.'' Here we show that perisaccadic compression is modulated by the presence of a visual saccadic target. When subjects saccaded to the center of the screen with no visible target, perisaccadic localization was more veridical than when tested with a target. Presenting a saccadic target sometime before saccade initiation was sufficient to induce mislocalization. When we systematically varied the onset of the saccade target, we found that it had to be presented around 100 ms before saccade execution to cause strong mislocalization: saccadic targets presented after this time caused progressively less mislocalization. When subjects made a saccade to screen center with a reference object placed at various positions, mislocalization was focused towards the position of the reference object. The results suggest that saccadic compression is a signature of a mechanism attempting to match objects seen before the saccade with those seen after. © 2014 ARVO.


Burr D.C.,University of Florence | Burr D.C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Morrone M.C.,University of Pisa | Morrone M.C.,Scientific Institute Stella Maris IRCSS
Perception | Year: 2012

To interact rapidly and effectively with our environment, our brain needs access to a neural representation-or map-of the spatial layout of the external world. However, the construction of such a map poses major challenges to the visual system, given that the images on our retinae depend on where the eyes are looking, and shift each time we move our eyes, head, and body to explore the world. Much research has been devoted to how the stability is achieved, with the debate often polarized between the utility of spatiotopic maps (that remain solid in external coordinates), as opposed to transiently updated retinotopic maps. Our research suggests that the visual system uses both strategies to maintain stability. f MRI, motion-adaptation, and saccade-adaptation studies demonstrate and characterize spatiotopic neural maps within the dorsal visual stream that remain solid in external rather than retinal coordinates. However, the construction of these maps takes time (up to 500 ms) and attentional resources. To solve the immediate problems created by individual saccades, we postulate the existence of a separate system to bridge each saccade with neural units that are 'transiently craniotopic'. These units prepare for the effects of saccades with a shift of their receptive fields before the saccade starts, then relaxing back into their standard position during the saccade, compensating for its action. Psychophysical studies investigating localization of stimuli flashed briefly around the time of saccades provide strong support for these neural mechanisms, and show quantitatively how they integrate information across saccades. This transient system cooperates with the spatiotopic mechanism to provide a useful map to guide interactions with our environment: one rapid and transitory, bringing into play the high-resolution visual areas; the other slow, long-lasting, and low-resolution, useful for interacting with the world. © 2012 a Pion publication.


Lunghi C.,University of Pisa | Lunghi C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Morrone M.C.,University of Pisa | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Physiology | Year: 2015

Very little is known about plasticity in the adult visual cortex. In recent years psychophysical studies have shown that short-term monocular deprivation alters visual perception in adult humans. Specifically, after 150 min of monocular deprivation the deprived eye strongly dominates the dynamics of binocular rivalry, reflecting homeostatic plasticity. Here we investigate the neural mechanisms underlying this form of short-term visual cortical plasticity by measuring visual evoked potentials (VEPs) on the scalp of adult humans during monocular stimulation before and after 150 min of monocular deprivation. We found that monocular deprivation had opposite effects on the amplitude of the earliest component of the VEP (C1) for the deprived and non-deprived eye stimulation. C1 amplitude increased (+66%) for the deprived eye, while it decreased (-29%) for the non-deprived eye. Source localization analysis confirmed that the C1 originates in the primary visual cortex. We further report that following monocular deprivation, the amplitude of the peak of the evoked alpha spectrum increased on average by 23% for the deprived eye and decreased on average by 10% for the non-deprived eye, indicating a change in cortical excitability. These results indicate that a brief period of monocular deprivation alters interocular balance in the primary visual cortex of adult humans by both boosting the activity of the deprived eye and reducing the activity of the non-deprived eye. This indicates a high level of residual homeostatic plasticity in the adult human primary visual cortex, probably mediated by a change in cortical excitability. © 2015 The Physiological Society.


Orchard-Mills E.,University of Sydney | Leung J.,University of Sydney | Burr D.,University of Florence | Burr D.,University of Western Australia | And 5 more authors.
Multisensory Research | Year: 2013

Information about the world is captured by our separate senses, and must be integrated to yield a unified representation. This raises the issue of which signals should be integrated and which should remain separate, as inappropriate integration will lead to misrepresentation and distortions. One strong cue suggesting that separate signals arise from a single source is coincidence, in space and in time. We measured increment thresholds for discriminating spatial intervals defined by pairs of simultaneously presented targets, one flash and one auditory sound, for various separations.We report a 'dipper function', in which thresholds follow a 'U-shaped' curve, with thresholds initially decreasing with spatial interval, and then increasing for larger separations. The presence of a dip in the audiovisual increment-discrimination function is evidence that the auditory and visual signals both input to a common mechanism encoding spatial separation, and a simple filter model with a sigmoidal transduction function simulated the results well. The function of an audiovisual spatial filter may be to detect coincidence, a fundamental cue guiding whether to integrate or segregate. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013.

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