New paper testing the role of Thalamus for conscious perception
Whether thalamocortical interactions play a decisive role in conscious perception remains an open question. We presented rapid red/green color flickering stimuli, which induced the mental perception of either an illusory orange color or non-fused red and green colors. Using magnetoencephalography, we observed 6-Hz thalamic activity associated with thalamocortical inhibitory coupling only during the conscious perception of the illusory orange color. This sustained thalamic disinhibition was temporally coupled with higher visual cortical activation during the conscious perception of the orange color, providing neurophysiological evidence of the role of thalamocortical synchronization in conscious awareness of mental representation. Bayesian model comparison consistently supported the thalamocortical model in conscious perception. Taken together, experimental and theoretical evidence established the thalamocortical inhibitory network as a gateway to conscious mental representations.