Single-cell selectivity and functional architecture of human lateral occipital complex.
ABSTRACT: The human lateral occipital complex (LOC) is more strongly activated by images of objects compared to scrambled controls, but detailed information at the neuronal level is currently lacking. We recorded with microelectrode arrays in the LOC of 2 patients and obtained highly selective single-unit, multi-unit, and high-gamma responses to images of objects. Contrary to predictions derived from functional imaging studies, all neuronal properties indicated that the posterior subsector of LOC we recorded from occupies an unexpectedly high position in the hierarchy of visual areas. Notably, the response latencies of LOC neurons were long, the shape selectivity was spatially clustered, LOC receptive fields (RFs) were large and bilateral, and a number of LOC neurons exhibited three-dimensional (3D)-structure selectivity (a preference for convex or concave stimuli), which are all properties typical of end-stage ventral stream areas. Thus, our results challenge prevailing ideas about the position of the more posterior subsector of LOC in the hierarchy of visual areas.
Project description:Much of what is known about the timing of visual processing in the brain is inferred from intracranial studies in monkeys, with human data limited to mainly noninvasive methods with lower spatial resolution. Here, we estimated visual onset latencies from electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings in a patient who was implanted with 112 subdural electrodes, distributed across the posterior cortex of the right hemisphere, for presurgical evaluation of intractable epilepsy. Functional MRI prior to surgery was used to determine boundaries of visual areas. The patient was presented with images of objects from several categories. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were calculated across all categories excluding targets, and statistically reliable onset latencies were determined, using a bootstrapping procedure over the single trial baseline activity in individual electrodes. The distribution of onset latencies broadly reflected the known hierarchy of visual areas, with the earliest cortical responses in primary visual cortex, and higher areas showing later responses. A clear exception to this pattern was a robust, statistically reliable and spatially localized, very early response, on the bank of the posterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The response in the IPS started nearly simultaneously with responses detected in peristriate visual areas, around 60 ms poststimulus onset. Our results support the notion of early visual processing in the posterior parietal lobe, not respecting traditional hierarchies, and give direct evidence for onset times of visual responses across the human cortex.
Project description:Object interaction requires knowledge of the weight of an object, as well as its shape. The lateral occipital complex (LOC), an area within the ventral visual pathway, is well known to be critically involved in processing visual shape information. Recently, however, LOC has also been implicated in coding object weight before grasping-a result that is surprising because weight is a nonvisual object property that is more relevant for motor interaction than visual perception. Here, we examined the causal role of LOC in perceiving heaviness and in determining appropriate fingertip forces during object lifting. We studied perceptions of heaviness and lifting behavior in a neuropsychological patient (M.C.) who has large bilateral occipitotemporal lesions that include LOC. We compared the patient's performance to a group of 18 neurologically healthy age-matched controls. Participants were asked to lift and report the perceived heaviness of a set of equally weighted spherical objects of various sizes-stimuli which typically induce the size-weight illusion, in which the smaller objects feel heavier than the larger objects despite having identical mass. Despite her ventral stream lesions, M.C. experienced a robust size-weight illusion induced by visual cues to object volume, and the magnitude of the illusion in M.C. was comparable to age-matched controls. Similarly, M.C. evinced predictive fingertip force scaling to visual size cues during her initial lifts of the objects that were well within the normal range. These single-case neuropsychological findings suggest that LOC is unlikely to play a causal role in computing object weight.
Project description:In 1995, Malach et al. discovered an area whose fMRI BOLD response was greater when viewing intact, familiar objects than when viewing their scrambled versions (resembling texture). Since then hundreds of studies have explored this late visual region termed the Lateral Occipital Complex (LOC), which is now known to be critical for shape perception (James, Culham, Humphrey, Milner, & Goodale, 2003). Malach et al. (1995) discounted a role of familiarity by showing that "abstract" Henry Moore sculptures, unfamiliar to the subjects, also activated this region. This characterization of LOC as a region that responds to shape independently of familiarity has been accepted but never tested with control of the same low-level features. We assessed LOC's response to objects that had identical parts in two different arrangements, one familiar and the other novel. Malach was correct: There is no net effect of familiarity in LOC. However, a multivoxel correlation analysis showed that LOC does distinguish familiar from novel objects.
Project description:Visual object-recognition is thought to involve activation of a distributed network of cortical regions, nodes of which include the lateral prefrontal cortex, the so-called lateral occipital complex (LOC), and the hippocampal formation. It has been proposed that long-range oscillatory synchronization is a major mode of coordinating such a distributed network. Here, intracranial recordings were made from three humans as they performed a challenging visual object-recognition task that required them to identify barely recognizable fragmented line-drawings of common objects. Subdural electrodes were placed over the prefrontal cortex and LOC, and depth electrodes were placed within the hippocampal formation. Robust beta-band coherence was evident in all subjects during processing of recognizable fragmented images. Significantly lower coherence was evident during processing of unrecognizable scrambled versions of the same. The results indicate that transient beta-band oscillatory coupling between these three distributed cortical regions may reflect a mechanism for effective communication during visual object processing.
Project description:The visual hierarchy of the ventral stream has been widely studied. However, it remains unclear how the hierarchical system organizes its functional coupling during top-down cognitive process. The present fMRI study investigated task-dependent functional connectivity along the ventral stream, while twenty-eight participants performed object recognition tasks that required different types of visual processing: i) searching or ii) memorizing visual objects embedded in natural scene images or iii) free viewing of the same images. Utilizing a seed-based approach that explicitly compared task-specific BOLD time-series, we identified task-dependent functional connectivity of the visual ventral stream, demonstrating different correlation structures. Searching for a target object manifested both correlated and anti-correlated structures, separating the visual areas V1 and V4 from the posterior part of the inferior temporal cortex (PIT). In contrast, the ventral stream structure remained correlated during memorizing objects, but increased the correlation between the right V4 and PIT. On the other hand, V1 and V4 showed task-dependent activation, whereas PIT was deactivated. These results highlight the context-dependent nature of the visual ventral stream and shed light on how the visual hierarchy is selectively organized to bias object recognition toward features of interest.
Project description:Abstract The lateral occipital complex (LOC) is a set of areas in the human occipito-temporal cortex responding to objects as opposed to low-level control stimuli. Conventional functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis methods based on regional averages could not detect signals discriminative of different types of objects in this region. Here, we examined fMRI signals using multivariate pattern recognition (support vector classification) to systematically explore the nature of object-related information available in fine-grained activity patterns in the LOC. Distributed fMRI signals from the LOC allowed for above-chance discrimination not only of the category but also of within-category exemplars of everyday man-made objects, and such exemplar-specific information generalized across changes in stimulus size and viewpoint, particularly in posterior subregions. Object identity could also be predicted from responses of the early visual cortex, even significantly across the changes in size and viewpoint used here. However, a dissociation was observed between these two regions of interest in the degree of discrimination for objects relative to size: In the early visual cortex, two different sizes of the same object were even better discriminated than two different objects (in accordance with measures of pixelwise stimulus similarity), whereas the opposite was true in the LOC. These findings provide the first evidence that direct evoked fMRI activity patterns in the LOC can be different for individual object exemplars (within a single category). We propose that pattern recognition methods as used here may provide an alternative approach to study mechanisms of neuronal representation based on aspects of the fMRI response independent of those assessed in adaptation paradigms.
Project description:Object recognition has been a central question in human vision research. The general consensus is that the ventral and dorsal visual streams are the major processing pathways undertaking objects' category and variation processing. This overlooks mounting evidence supporting the role of peri-frontal areas in category processing. Yet, many aspects of visual processing in peri-frontal areas have remained unattended including whether these areas play role only during active recognition and whether they interact with lower visual areas or process information independently. To address these questions, subjects were presented with a set of variation-controlled object images while their EEG were recorded. Considerable amounts of category and variation information were decodable from occipital, parietal, temporal and prefrontal electrodes. Using information-selectivity indices, phase and Granger causality analyses, three processing stages were identified showing distinct directions of information transaction between peri-frontal and peri-occipital areas suggesting their parallel yet interactive role in visual processing. A brain-plausible model supported the possibility of interactive mechanisms in peri-occipital and peri-frontal areas. These findings, while promoting the role of prefrontal areas in object recognition, extend their contributions from active recognition, in which peri-frontal to peri-occipital pathways are activated by higher cognitive processes, to the general sensory-driven object and variation processing.
Project description:Previous studies have demonstrated that the early retinotopic cortex (ERC, i.e., V1/V2/V3) is highly associated with the lateral occipital complex (LOC) during visual perception. However, it remains largely unclear how to evaluate their associations in quantitative way. The present study tried to apply a multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to quantify the neural activity in ERC and its association with that of the LOC when participants saw visual images. To this end, we assessed whether low-level visual features (Gabor features) could predict the neural activity in the ERC and LOC according to a voxel-based encoding model (VBEM), and then quantified the association of the neural activity between these regions by using an analogical VBEM. We found that the Gabor features remarkably predicted the activity of the ERC (e.g., the predicted accuracy was 52.5% for a participant) instead of that of the LOC (4.2%). Moreover, the MVPA approach can also be used to establish corresponding relationships between the activity patterns in the LOC and those in the ERC (64.2%). In particular, we found that the integration of the Gabor features and LOC visual information could dramatically improve the 'prediction' of ERC activity (88.3%). Overall, the present study provides new evidences for the possibility of quantifying the association of the neural activity between the regions of ERC and LOC. This approach will help to provide further insights into the neural substrates of the visual processing.
Project description:What is the relationship between retinotopy and object selectivity in human lateral occipital (LO) cortex? We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine sensitivity to retinal position and category in LO, an object-selective region positioned posterior to MT along the lateral cortical surface. Six subjects participated in phase-encoded retinotopic mapping experiments as well as block-design experiments in which objects from six different categories were presented at six distinct positions in the visual field. We found substantial position modulation in LO using standard nonobject retinotopic mapping stimuli; this modulation extended beyond the boundaries of visual field maps LO-1 and LO-2. Further, LO showed a pronounced lower visual field bias: more LO voxels represented the lower contralateral visual field, and the mean LO response was higher to objects presented below fixation than above fixation. However, eccentricity effects produced by retinotopic mapping stimuli and objects differed. Whereas LO voxels preferred a range of eccentricities lying mostly outside the fovea in the retinotopic mapping experiment, LO responses were strongest to foveally presented objects. Finally, we found a stronger effect of position than category on both the mean LO response, as well as the distributed response across voxels. Overall these results demonstrate that retinal position exhibits strong effects on neural response in LO and indicates that these position effects may be explained by retinotopic organization.
Project description:In human occipitotemporal cortex, category-specific processing for visual objects seems to involve pairs of cortical regions, often with one located in the occipital cortex and another more anteriorly. We investigated whether such an arrangement might be the case for visual word processing. In addition to the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) located in the occipitotemporal sulcus, we observed that another region in occipital lobe with robust responses to written words (Chinese characters). The current fMRI study investigated this area's precise location and its functional selectivity using Chinese characters and other categories of visual images (cars, chairs and insects). In all the 13 subjects we could identify a cluster of voxels near the inferior occipital gyrus or middle occipital gyrus with stronger responses to Chinese characters than scrambled objects. We tentatively label this area as the Occipital Word Form Sensitive Area (OWA). The OWA's response amplitudes showed similar preference to written words as the VWFA, with the VWFA showing a higher degree of word selectivity, which was confirmed by the result from spatial patterns of response. These results indicate that the OWA, together with the VWFA, are critical parts of the network for processing and representing the category information for word.