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Nature. 1999 Aug 26;400(6747):869-73.

Global and fine information coded by single neurons in the temporal visual cortex.

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Electrotechnical Laboratory, Umezono, Tsukuba, Japan.


When we see a person's face, we can easily recognize their species, individual identity and emotional state. How does the brain represent such complex information? A substantial number of neurons in the macaque temporal cortex respond to faces. However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying the processing of complex information are not yet clear. Here we recorded the activity of single neurons in the temporal cortex of macaque monkeys while presenting visual stimuli consisting of geometric shapes, and monkey and human faces with various expressions. Information theory was used to investigate how well the neuronal responses could categorize the stimuli. We found that single neurons conveyed two different scales of facial information in their firing patterns, starting at different latencies. Global information, categorizing stimuli as monkey faces, human faces or shapes, was conveyed in the earliest part of the responses. Fine information about identity or expression was conveyed later, beginning on average 51 ms after global information. We speculate that global information could be used as a 'header' to prepare destination areas for receiving more detailed information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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