A framework for the first‑person internal sensation of visual perception in mammals and a comparable circuitry for olfactory perception in Drosophila

Springerplus 4 (833):1-23 (2015)
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Perception is a first-person internal sensation induced within the nervous system at the time of arrival of sensory stimuli from objects in the environment. Lack of access to the first-person properties has limited viewing perception as an emergent property and it is currently being studied using third-person observed findings from various levels. One feasible approach to understand its mechanism is to build a hypothesis for the specific conditions and required circuit features of the nodal points where the mechanistic operation of perception take place for one type of sensation in one species and to verify it for the presence of comparable circuit properties for perceiving a different sensation in a different species. The present work explains visual perception in mammalian nervous system from a first-person frame of reference and provides explanations for the homogeneity of perception of visual stimuli above flicker fusion frequency, the perception of objects at locations different from their actual position, the smooth pursuit and saccadic eye movements, the perception of object borders, and perception of pressure phosphenes. Using results from temporal resolution studies and the known details of visual cortical circuitry, explanations are provided for (a) the perception of rapidly changing visual stimuli, (b) how the perception of objects occurs in the correct orientation even though, according to the third-person view, activity from the visual stimulus reaches the cortices in an inverted manner and (c) the functional significance of well-conserved columnar organization of the visual cortex. A comparable circuitry detected in a different nervous system in a remote species-the olfactory circuitry of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster-provides an opportunity to explore circuit functions using genetic manipulations, which, along with high-resolution microscopic techniques and lipid membrane interaction studies, will be able to verify the structure-function details of the presented mechanism of perception.

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Kunjumon Vadakkan
University of Manitoba


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