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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Feb;95(2):995-1007. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Object-selective cortex exhibits performance-independent repetition suppression.

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  • 1Neurosciences Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Object-selective cortical regions exhibit a decreased response when an object stimulus is repeated [repetition suppression (RS)]. RS is often associated with priming: reduced response times and increased accuracy for repeated stimuli. It is unknown whether RS reflects stimulus-specific repetition, the associated changes in response time, or the combination of the two. To address this question, we performed a rapid event-related functional MRI (fMRI) study in which we measured BOLD signal in object-selective cortex, as well as object recognition performance, while we manipulated stimulus repetition. Our design allowed us to examine separately the roles of response time and repetition in explaining RS. We found that repetition played a robust role in explaining RS: repeated trials produced weaker BOLD responses than nonrepeated trials, even when comparing trials with matched response times. In contrast, response time played a weak role in explaining RS when repetition was controlled for: it explained BOLD responses only for one region of interest (ROI) and one experimental condition. Thus repetition suppression seems to be mostly driven by repetition rather than performance changes. We further examined whether RS reflects processes occurring at the same time as recognition or after recognition by manipulating stimulus presentation duration. In one experiment, durations were longer than required for recognition (2 s), whereas in a second experiment, durations were close to the minimum time required for recognition (85-101 ms). We found significant RS for brief presentations (albeit with a reduced magnitude), which again persisted when controlling for performance. This suggests a substantial amount of RS occurs during recognition.

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