Ubiquitous variability between individuals in visual perception is difficult to standardize and has thus essentially been ignored. Here we construct a quantitative psychophysical measure of illusory rotary motion based on the Pinna-Brelstaff figure (PBF) in 73 healthy volunteers and investigate the neural circuit mechanisms underlying perceptual variation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We acquired fMRI data from a subset of 42 subjects during spontaneous and 3 stimulus conditions: expanding PBF, expanding modified-PBF (illusion-free) and expanding modified-PBF with physical rotation. Brain-wide graph analysis of stimulus-evoked functional connectivity patterns yielded a functionally segregated architecture containing 3 discrete hierarchical networks, commonly shared between rest and stimulation conditions. Strikingly, communication efficiency and strength between 2 networks predominantly located in visual areas robustly predicted individual perceptual differences solely in the illusory stimulus condition. These unprecedented findings demonstrate that stimulus-dependent, not spontaneous, dynamic functional integration between distributed brain networks contributes to perceptual variability in humans.

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