A new XenoxNews.com feature, where we get regular contributors to de-construct the latest scientific advances and publications into words and ideas the lay public can understand.
Today Loony Les has a crack at neuroscience....
PNAS June 26, 2012 vol. 109 no. 26 10599-10604
By Ramakrishna Chakravarthia & Rufin Van Rullen, Toulouse, France.
De-constructed by Loony Les
As the visual world changes, its representation in our consciousness must be constantly updated.
Fuck that, my brains ideas haven’t changed in the last 20 years…
Given that the external changes are continuous, it appears plausible that conscious updating is continuous as well.
Plausible? I suppose it is plausible that Michael Jackson wasn’t a pedophile; plausible but highly unlikely…
Alternatively, this updating could be periodic, if, for example, its implementation at the neural level relies on oscillatory activity. The flash-lag illusion, where a briefly presented flash in the vicinity of a moving object is misperceived to lag behind the moving object, is a useful tool for studying the dynamics of conscious updating.
There I was thinking it was due to the drugs I was taking at that nightclub!
Here, we show that the trial-by-trial variability in updating, measured by the flash-lag effect (FLE), is highly correlated with the phase of spontaneous EEG oscillations in occipital (5–10 Hz) and frontocentral (12–20 Hz) cortices just around the reference event (flash onset).
OK, enough of that. Now you’re making my head hurt.
Further, the periodicity in each region independently influences the updating process, suggesting a two-stage periodic mechanism. We conclude that conscious updating is not continuous; rather, it follows a rhythmic pattern.
So from this I think I can state that we don’t know what the fuck is going on, and probably never will. Great; thanks for clearing that up mate!
Next week Pharmacology. Perhaps more up Loony Les's alley.