Disambiguation of a noisy visual scene with prior knowledge is an indispensable task of the visual system. To adequately adapt to a dynamically changing visual environment full of noisy visual scenes, the implementation of knowledge-mediated disambiguation in the brain is imperative and essential for proceeding as fast as possible under the limited capacity of visual image processing. However, the temporal profile of the disambiguation process has not yet been fully elucidated in the brain. The present study attempted to determine how quickly knowledge-mediated disambiguation began to proceed along visual areas after the onset of a two-tone ambiguous image using magnetoencephalography with high temporal resolution. Using the predictive coding framework, we focused on activity reduction for the two-tone ambiguous image as an index of the implementation of disambiguation. Source analysis revealed that a significant activity reduction was observed in the lateral occipital area at approximately 120 ms after the onset of the ambiguous image, but not in preceding activity (about 115 ms) in the cuneus when participants perceptually disambiguated the ambiguous image with prior knowledge. These results suggested that knowledge-mediated disambiguation may be implemented as early as approximately 120 ms following an ambiguous visual scene, at least in the lateral occipital area, and provided an insight into the temporal profile of the disambiguation process of a noisy visual scene with prior knowledge.
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