Dissociable Neural Information Dynamics of Perceptual Integration and Differentiation during Bistable Perception

Andrés Canales-Johnson, Alexander J. Billig, Francisco Olivares, Andrés Gonzalez, Mariá Del Carmen Garcia, Walter Silva, Esteban Vaucheret, Carlos Ciraolo, Ezequiel Mikulan, Agustín Ibanez, David Huepe, Valdas Noreika, Srivas Chennu, Tristan A. Bekinschtein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


At any given moment, we experience a perceptual scene as a single whole and yet we may distinguish a variety of objects within it. This phenomenon instantiates two properties of conscious perception: integration and differentiation. Integration is the property of experiencing a collection of objects as a unitary percept and differentiation is the property of experiencing these objects as distinct from each other. Here, we evaluated the neural information dynamics underlying integration and differentiation of perceptual contents during bistable perception. Participants listened to a sequence of tones (auditory bistable stimuli) experienced either as a single stream (perceptual integration) or as two parallel streams (perceptual differentiation) of sounds. We computed neurophysiological indices of information integration and information differentiation with electroencephalographic and intracranial recordings. When perceptual alternations were endogenously driven, the integrated percept was associated with an increase in neural information integration and a decrease in neural differentiation across frontoparietal regions, whereas the opposite pattern was observed for the differentiated percept. However, when perception was exogenously driven by a change in the sound stream (no bistability), neural oscillatory power distinguished between percepts but information measures did not. We demonstrate that perceptual integration and differentiation can be mapped to theoretically motivated neural information signatures, suggesting a direct relationship between phenomenology and neurophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4563-4580
Number of pages18
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number8
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • auditory streaming
  • bistable perception
  • information differentiation
  • information integration
  • phenomenal consciousness


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