Thalamocortical inhibitory dynamics support conscious perception

Byoung Kyong Min, Hyun Seok Kim, Dimitris A. Pinotsis, Dimitrios Pantazis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117066
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea University Future Research Grant (grant number K2006911 to B.K.M.), the Basic Science Research Program (grant number 2018R1A2B6004084 to B.K.M.), the Convergent Technology R&D Program for Human Augmentation (grant number 2020M3C1B8081319 to B.K.M.), and the Information Technology Research Center (ITRC) support program (grant number IITP-2020-2016-0-00464 to B.K.M.), funded by the Korean government (MSICT) through the National Research Foundation of Korea . We thank Kiwoong Kim, Kensuke Sekihara, and Jeongwoo Kim for their valuable comments and analytic discussion. We are also thankful to Sanghyun Lim, Ji-Eun Kim, Hyukchan Kwon, Min-Hee Ahn, Ji-Wan Kim, and Min-Young Kim for their kind assistance during data acquisition and analysis. The authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)


  • Conscious perception
  • Thalamic reticular nucleus
  • Thalamocortical inhibitory network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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