The dynamics of visual experience, an EEG study of subjective pattern formation

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30830. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030830. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


Background: Since the origin of psychological science a number of studies have reported visual pattern formation in the absence of either physiological stimulation or direct visual-spatial references. Subjective patterns range from simple phosphenes to complex patterns but are highly specific and reported reliably across studies.

Methodology/principal findings: Using independent-component analysis (ICA) we report a reduction in amplitude variance consistent with subjective-pattern formation in ventral posterior areas of the electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG exhibits significantly increased power at delta/theta and gamma-frequencies (point and circle patterns) or a series of high-frequency harmonics of a delta oscillation (spiral patterns).

Conclusions/significance: Subjective-pattern formation may be described in a way entirely consistent with identical pattern formation in fluids or granular flows. In this manner, we propose subjective-pattern structure to be represented within a spatio-temporal lattice of harmonic oscillations which bind topographically organized visual-neuronal assemblies by virtue of low frequency modulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult