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Distributed representation of objects in the human ventral visual pathway


Ishai, A; Ungerleider, L G; Martin, A; Schouten, J L; Haxby, J V (1999). Distributed representation of objects in the human ventral visual pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 96(16):9379-9384.

Abstract

Brain imaging and electrophysiological recording studies in humans have reported discrete cortical regions in posterior ventral temporal cortex that respond preferentially to faces, buildings, and letters. These findings suggest a category-specific anatomically segregated modular organization of the object vision pathway. Here we present data from a functional MRI study in which we found three distinct regions of ventral temporal cortex that responded preferentially to faces and two categories of other objects, namely houses and chairs, and had a highly consistent topological arrangement. Although the data could be interpreted as evidence for separate modules, we found that each category also evoked significant responses in the regions that responded maximally to other stimuli. Moreover, each category was associated with its own differential pattern of response across ventral temporal cortex. These results indicate that the representation of an object is not restricted to a region that responds maximally to that object, but rather is distributed across a broader expanse of cortex. We propose that the functional architecture of the ventral visual pathway is not a mosaic of category-specific modules but instead is a continuous representation of information about object form that has a highly consistent and orderly topological arrangement.

Brain imaging and electrophysiological recording studies in humans have reported discrete cortical regions in posterior ventral temporal cortex that respond preferentially to faces, buildings, and letters. These findings suggest a category-specific anatomically segregated modular organization of the object vision pathway. Here we present data from a functional MRI study in which we found three distinct regions of ventral temporal cortex that responded preferentially to faces and two categories of other objects, namely houses and chairs, and had a highly consistent topological arrangement. Although the data could be interpreted as evidence for separate modules, we found that each category also evoked significant responses in the regions that responded maximally to other stimuli. Moreover, each category was associated with its own differential pattern of response across ventral temporal cortex. These results indicate that the representation of an object is not restricted to a region that responds maximally to that object, but rather is distributed across a broader expanse of cortex. We propose that the functional architecture of the ventral visual pathway is not a mosaic of category-specific modules but instead is a continuous representation of information about object form that has a highly consistent and orderly topological arrangement.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neuroradiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1999
Deposited On:13 Mar 2009 13:12
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:26
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
Additional Information:Copyright: National Academy of Sciences USA
Publisher DOI:10.1073/pnas.96.16.9379
Official URL:http://www.pnas.org/content/96/16/9379.long
PubMed ID:10430951
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3218

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