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Spatial and temporal integration of binocular disparity in the primate brain.

Abstract : The primate visual system strongly relies on the small differences between the two retinal projections to perceive depth. However, it is not fully understood how those binocular disparities are computed and integrated by the nervous system. On the one hand, single-unit recordings in macaque give access to neuronal encoding of disparity at a very local level. On the other hand, functional neuroimaging (fMRI) studies in human shed light on the cortical networks involved in disparity processing at a macroscopic level but with a different species. In this thesis, we propose to use an fMRI approach in macaque to bridge the gap between single-unit and fMRI recordings conducted in the non-human and human primate brain, respectively, by allowing direct comparisons between the two species. More specifically, we focused on the temporal and spatial processing of binocular disparities at the cortical but also at the perceptual level. Investigating cortical activity in response to motion-in-depth, we could show for the first time that 1) there is a dedicated network in macaque that comprises areas beyond the MT cluster and its surroundings and that 2) there are homologies with the human network involved in processing very similar stimuli. In a second study, we tried to establish a link between perceptual biases that reflect statistical regularities in the three-dimensional visual environment and cortical activity, by investigating whether such biases exist and can be related to specific responses at a macroscopic level. We found stronger activity for the stimulus reflecting natural statistics in one subject, demonstrating a potential influence of spatial regularities on the cortical activity. Further work is needed to firmly conclude about such a link. Nonetheless, we robustly confirmed the existence of a vast cortical network responding to correlated disparities in the macaque brain. Finally, we could measure for the first time retinal corresponding points on the vertical meridian of a macaque subject performing a behavioural task (forced-choice procedure) and compare it to the data we also collected in several human observers with the very same protocol. In the discussion sections, we showed how these findings open the door to varied perspectives.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 2, 2020 - 5:21:36 PM
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Yseult Héjja-Brichard. Spatial and temporal integration of binocular disparity in the primate brain.. Neuroscience. Université Toulouse 3 - Paul Sabatier, 2020. English. ⟨tel-02956425⟩

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