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Perceptual Cycles: Exploring and controlling the perceptual consequences of brain rhythms (P-CYCLES)
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

"Many current theories implicate brain oscillations in perception, attention, consciousness or memory. This, however, has one critical implication that is often overlooked in cognitive sciences: if a perceptual function relies on an oscillatory basis, then it should operate periodically, as a sequence of successive episodes or 'snapshots', with more or less favourable moments recurring at a well-defined periodicity. The present project aims to explore the validity and the consequences of this groundbreaking notion of ""rhythmic perception"". Whereas current research links perceptual functions to relatively slow changes of oscillatory amplitude, we propose to investigate the perceptual consequences of brain rhythms at the rapid time scale of the oscillatory cycle –the notion of ""perceptual cycles"". In work-package (WP) 1, we will explore the range of perceptual and cognitive operations that depend on oscillatory neural implementations, and reveal their cyclic behaviour. In WP2, we will relate these perceptual and cognitive cycles to the underlying neural activities by means of brain imaging techniques (EEG, fMRI, TMS); a key innovation is a proposed novel fMRI method to visualize the spatio-temporal propagation of perceptual cycles. In WP3, we will utilize this knowledge to control the power, frequency and phase of perceptual rhythms and thus dynamically manipulate, improve or prevent perception. In WP4, we will bridge the gap between lower- and higher-frequency perceptual cycles (from ~2 to ~100Hz) by experimental studies of cross-frequency coupling and computational models of visual information multiplexing. The project as a whole will characterize the rhythmic dynamics of perception, their neural basis and their functional implications, bringing us closer to understanding perception itself. The idea that sensory perception and cognition might follow a succession of snapshots rather than a continuous stream could spark a major transformation in cognitive sciences."
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