Cortical oscillations as temporal reference frames for perception

Abstract : The timing of sensory events is a crucial perceptual feature, which affects both explicit judgments of time (e.g. duration, temporal order) and implicit temporal perception (e.g. movement, speech). Yet, while the relative external timing between events is commonly evaluated with a clock in physics, the brain does not have access to this external reference. In this dissertation, we tested the hypothesis that the brain should recover the temporal information of the environment from its own dynamics. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) combined with psychophysics, the experimental work suggests the involvement of cortical oscillations in the encoding of timing for perception. In the first part of this dissertation, we established that the phase of low-frequency cortical oscillations could encode the explicit timing of events in the context of entrainment, i.e. if neural activity follows the temporal regularities of the stimulation. The implications of brain oscillations for the encoding of timing in the absence of external temporal regularities were investigated in a second experiment. Results from a third experiment suggest that entrainment does only influence audiovisual temporal processing when bound to low-frequency dynamics in the delta range (1-2 Hz). In the last part of the dissertation, we tested whether oscillations in sensory cortex could also ‘tag’ the timing of acoustical features for speech perception. Overall, this thesis provides evidence that the brain is able to tune its timing to match the temporal structure of the environment, and that such tuning may be crucial to build up internal temporal reference frames for explicit and implicit timing perception.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 29, 2014 - 1:01:42 AM
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Anne Kosem. Cortical oscillations as temporal reference frames for perception. Agricultural sciences. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2014. English. ⟨NNT : 2014PA066074⟩. ⟨tel-01069219⟩

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