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PLoS One ; 16(6): e0253067, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280622


Modern accounts of visual motion processing in the primate brain emphasize a hierarchy of different regions within the dorsal visual pathway, especially primary visual cortex (V1) and the middle temporal area (MT). However, recent studies have called the idea of a processing pipeline with fixed contributions to motion perception from each area into doubt. Instead, the role that each area plays appears to depend on properties of the stimulus as well as perceptual history. We propose to test this hypothesis in human subjects by comparing motion perception of two commonly used stimulus types: drifting sinusoidal gratings (DSGs) and random dot patterns (RDPs). To avoid potential biases in our approach we are pre-registering our study. We will compare the effects of size and contrast levels on the perception of the direction of motion for DSGs and RDPs. In addition, based on intriguing results in a pilot study, we will also explore the effects of a post-stimulus mask. Our approach will offer valuable insights into how motion is processed by the visual system and guide further behavioral and neurophysiological research.

Motion Perception/physiology , Neurons/physiology , Photic Stimulation/methods , Visual Cortex/physiology , Visual Fields/physiology , Visual Pathways/physiology , Visual Perception/physiology , Humans
Neurobiol Dis ; 153: 105319, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1108562


Visual recognition of facial expression modulates our social interactions. Compelling experimental evidence indicates that face conveys plenty of information that are fundamental for humans to interact. These are encoded at neural level in specific cortical and subcortical brain regions through activity- and experience-dependent synaptic plasticity processes. The current pandemic, due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, is causing relevant social and psychological detrimental effects. The institutional recommendations on physical distancing, namely social distancing and wearing of facemasks are effective in reducing the rate of viral spread. However, by impacting social interaction, facemasks might impair the neural responses to recognition of facial cues that are overall critical to our behaviors. In this survey, we briefly review the current knowledge on the neurobiological substrate of facial recognition and discuss how the lack of salient stimuli might impact the ability to retain and consolidate learning and memory phenomena underlying face recognition. Such an "abnormal" visual experience raises the intriguing possibility of a "reset" mechanism, a renewed ability of adult brain to undergo synaptic plasticity adaptations.

Brain/physiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Facial Recognition/physiology , Masks , Neuronal Plasticity/physiology , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Occipital Lobe/physiology , Prefrontal Cortex/physiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Perception , Temporal Lobe/physiology , Visual Pathways/physiology