Single-cell responses to face adaptation in the human medial temporal lobe.
ABSTRACT: We used a face adaptation paradigm to bias the perception of ambiguous images of faces and study how single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) respond to the same images eliciting different percepts. The ambiguous images were morphs between the faces of two familiar individuals, chosen because at least one MTL neuron responded selectively to one but not to the other face. We found that the firing of MTL neurons closely followed the subjects' perceptual decisions--i.e., recognizing one person or the other. In most cases, the response to the ambiguous images was similar to the one obtained when showing the pictures without morphing. Altogether, these results show that many neurons in the medial temporal lobe signal the subjects' perceptual decisions rather than the visual features of the stimulus.
Project description:Hippocampal damage has been thought to result in broad memory impairment. Recent studies in humans, however, have raised the possibility that recognition memory for faces might be spared. In five experiments we investigated face recognition in patients with hippocampal lesions (H) or large medial temporal lobe (MTL) lesions, including patients where neurohistological information was available. Recognition of novel faces was unequivocally intact in H patients but only at a short retention interval. Recognition memory for words, buildings, inverted faces, and famous faces was impaired. For MTL patients, recognition memory was impaired for all materials and across all retention intervals. These results indicate that structures other than the hippocampus, perhaps the perirhinal cortex, can support face recognition memory in H patients under some conditions. The fact that the faces were novel when recognition memory was intact does not fully account for our findings. We propose that the role of the hippocampus in recognition memory is related to how recognition decisions are accomplished. In typical recognition tasks, participants proceed by forming an association between a study item and the study list, and the recognition decision is later made based on whether participants believe the item was on the study list. We suggest that face recognition is an exception to this principle and that, at short retention intervals, participants can make their recognition decisions without making explicit reference to the study list. Important features of faces that might make face recognition exceptional are that they are processed holistically and are difficult to verbally label.
Project description:The medial temporal lobe (MTL), a set of heavily interconnected structures including the hippocampus and underlying entorhinal, perirhinal and parahippocampal cortex, is traditionally believed to be part of a unitary system dedicated to declarative memory. Recent studies, however, demonstrated perceptual impairments in amnesic individuals with MTL damage, with hippocampal lesions causing scene discrimination deficits, and perirhinal lesions causing object and face discrimination deficits. The degree of impairment on these tasks was influenced by the need to process complex conjunctions of features: discriminations requiring the integration of multiple visual features caused deficits, whereas discriminations that could be solved on the basis of a single feature did not. Here, we address these issues with functional neuroimaging in healthy participants as they performed a version of the oddity discrimination task used previously in patients. Three different types of stimuli (faces, scenes, novel objects) were presented from either identical or different viewpoints. Consistent with studies in patients, we observed increased perirhinal activity when participants distinguished between faces and objects presented from different, compared to identical, viewpoints. The posterior hippocampus, by contrast, showed an effect of viewpoint for both faces and scenes. These findings provide convergent evidence that the MTL is involved in processes beyond long-term declarative memory and suggest a critical role for these structures in integrating complex features of faces, objects, and scenes into view-invariant, abstract representations.
Project description:Although a memory systems view of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) has been widely influential in understanding how memory processes are implemented, a large body of work across humans and animals has converged on the idea that the MTL can support various other decisions, beyond those involving memory. Specifically, recent work suggests that perception of and memory for visual representations may interact in order to support ongoing cognition. However, given considerations involving lesion profiles in neuropsychological investigations and the correlational nature of fMRI, the precise nature of representations supported by the MTL are not well understood in humans. In the present investigation, three patients with highly specific lesions to MTL were administered a task that taxed perceptual and mnemonic judgments with highly similar face stimuli. A striking double dissociation was observed such that I.R., a patient with a cyst localized to right posterior PRc, displayed a significant impairment in perceptual discriminations, whereas patient A.N., an individual with a lesion in right posterior parahippocampal cortex and the tail of the right hippocampus, and S.D., an individual with bilateral hippocampal damage, did not display impaired performance on the perceptual task. A.N. and S.D. did, however, show impairments in memory performance, whereas patient I.R. did not. These results causally implicate right PRc in successful perceptual oddity judgments, however they suggest that representations supported by PRc are not necessary for correct mnemonic judgments, even in situations of high featural overlap.
Project description:We tested a novel hypothesis, generated from representational accounts of medial temporal lobe (MTL) function, that the major white matter tracts converging on perirhinal cortex (PrC) and hippocampus (HC) would be differentially involved in face and scene perception, respectively. Diffusion tensor imaging was applied in healthy participants alongside an odd-one-out paradigm sensitive to PrC and HC lesions in animals and humans. Microstructure of inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF, connecting occipital and ventro-anterior temporal lobe, including PrC) and fornix (the main HC input/output pathway) correlated with accuracy on odd-one-out judgements involving faces and scenes, respectively. Similarly, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response in PrC and HC, elicited during oddity judgements, was correlated with face and scene oddity performance, respectively. We also observed associations between ILF and fornix microstructure and category-selective BOLD response in PrC and HC, respectively. These striking three-way associations highlight functionally dissociable, structurally instantiated MTL neurocognitive networks for complex face and scene perception.
Project description:Neural variability in responding to identical repeated stimuli has been related to trial-by-trial fluctuations in ongoing activity, yet the neural and perceptual consequences of these fluctuations remain poorly understood. Using functional neuroimaging, we recorded brain activity in subjects who reported perceptual decisions on an ambiguous figure, Rubin's vase-faces picture, which was briefly presented at variable intervals of > or = 20 s. Prestimulus activity in the fusiform face area, a cortical region preferentially responding to faces, was higher when subjects subsequently perceived faces instead of the vase. This finding suggests that endogenous variations in prestimulus neuronal activity biased subsequent perceptual inference. Furnishing evidence that evoked sensory responses, we then went on to show that the pre- and poststimulus activity interact in a nonlinear way and the ensuing perceptual decisions depend upon the prestimulus context in which they occur.
Project description:Current theories of medial temporal lobe (MTL) function focus on event content as an important organizational principle that differentiates MTL subregions. Perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices may play content-specific roles in memory, whereas hippocampal processing is alternately hypothesized to be content specific or content general. Despite anatomical evidence for content-specific MTL pathways, empirical data for content-based MTL subregional dissociations are mixed. Here, we combined functional magnetic resonance imaging with multiple statistical approaches to characterize MTL subregional responses to different classes of novel event content (faces, scenes, spoken words, sounds, visual words). Univariate analyses revealed that responses to novel faces and scenes were distributed across the anterior-posterior axis of MTL cortex, with face responses distributed more anteriorly than scene responses. Moreover, multivariate pattern analyses of perirhinal and parahippocampal data revealed spatially organized representational codes for multiple content classes, including nonpreferred visual and auditory stimuli. In contrast, anterior hippocampal responses were content general, with less accurate overall pattern classification relative to MTL cortex. Finally, posterior hippocampal activation patterns consistently discriminated scenes more accurately than other forms of content. Collectively, our findings indicate differential contributions of MTL subregions to event representation via a distributed code along the anterior-posterior axis of MTL that depends on the nature of event content.
Project description:Working memory is an essential component of human cognition. Persistent activity related to working memory has been reported in many brain areas, including the inferior temporal and prefrontal cortex [1-8]. The medial temporal lobe (MTL) contains "concept cells" that respond invariantly to specific individuals or places whether presented as images, text, or speech [9, 10]. It is unknown, however, whether the MTL also participates in working memory processes. We thus sought to determine whether human MTL neurons respond to images held in working memory. We recorded from patients with chronically intractable epilepsy as they performed a task that required them to remember three or four sequentially presented pictures across a brief delay. 48% of visually selective neurons continued to carry image-specific information after image offset, but most ceased to encode previously presented images after a subsequent presentation of a different image. However, 8% of visually selective neurons encoded previously presented images during a final maintenance period, despite presentation of further images in the intervening interval. Population activity of stimulus-selective neurons predicted behavioral outcome in terms of correct and incorrect responses. These findings indicate that the MTL is part of a brain-wide network for working memory.
Project description:Neurons in the primate medial temporal lobe (MTL) respond selectively to visual categories such as faces, contributing to how the brain represents stimulus meaning. However, it remains unknown whether MTL neurons continue to encode stimulus meaning when it changes flexibly as a function of variable task demands imposed by goal-directed behavior. While classically associated with long-term memory, recent lesion and neuroimaging studies show that the MTL also contributes critically to the online guidance of goal-directed behaviors such as visual search. Do such tasks modulate responses of neurons in the MTL, and if so, do their responses mirror bottom-up input from visual cortices or do they reflect more abstract goal-directed properties? To answer these questions, we performed concurrent recordings of eye movements and single neurons in the MTL and medial frontal cortex (MFC) in human neurosurgical patients performing a memory-guided visual search task. We identified a distinct population of target-selective neurons in both the MTL and MFC whose response signaled whether the currently fixated stimulus was a target or distractor. This target-selective response was invariant to visual category and predicted whether a target was detected or missed behaviorally during a given fixation. The response latencies, relative to fixation onset, of MFC target-selective neurons preceded those in the MTL by ?200 ms, suggesting a frontal origin for the target signal. The human MTL thus represents not only fixed stimulus identity, but also task-specified stimulus relevance due to top-down goal relevance.
Project description:People with whom one is personally acquainted tend to elicit richer and more vivid memories than people with whom one does not have a personal connection. Recent findings from neurons in the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) have shown that individual cells respond selectively and invariantly to representations of famous people [Quian Quiroga R, Reddy L, Kreiman G, Koch C, Fried I (2005) Nature 435(7045):1102-1107]. Observing these cells, we wondered whether photographs of personally relevant individuals, such as family members, might be more likely to generate such responses. To address this issue, we recorded the activity of 2,330 neurons in the human MTL while patients viewed photographs of varying personal relevance: previously unknown faces and landscapes, familiar but not necessarily personally relevant faces and landscapes, and finally, photographs of the patients themselves, their families, and the experimenters. Our findings indicate that personally relevant photographs are indeed more likely to elicit selective responses in MTL neurons than photographs of individuals with whom the patients have had no personal contact. These findings further suggest that relevant stimuli are encoded by a larger proportion of neurons than less relevant stimuli, given that familiar or personally relevant items are linked to a larger variety of experiences and memories of these experiences.
Project description:Studies of people with memory impairments have shown that a specific set of brain structures in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) is vital for memory function. However, whether these structures have a role outside of memory remains contentious. Recent studies of amnesic patients with damage to two structures within the MTL, the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex, indicated that these patients also performed poorly on perceptual tasks. More specifically, they performed worse than controls when discriminating between objects, faces and scenes with overlapping features. In order to investigate whether these perceptual deficits are reflected in their viewing strategies, we tested a group of amnesic patients with MTL damage that included the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex on a series of oddity discrimination tasks in which they had to select an odd item from a visual array. Participants' eye movements were monitored throughout the experiment. Results revealed that patients were impaired on tasks that required them to discriminate between items that shared many features, and tasks that required processing items from different viewpoints. An analysis of their eye movements revealed that they exhibited a similar viewing pattern as controls: they fixated more on the target item on trials answered correctly, but not on trials answered incorrectly. In addition, their impaired performance was not explained by an abnormal viewing-strategy that assessed their use of working memory. These results suggest that the perceptual deficits in the MTL patients are not a consequence of abnormal viewing patterns of the objects and scenes, but instead, could involve an inability to bind information gathered from several fixations into a cohesive percept. These data also support the view that MTL structures are important not only for long-term memory, but are also involved in perceptual tasks.