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Brain. 2002 May;125(Pt 5):1125-36.

Dynamics of visual feature analysis and object-level processing in face versus letter-string perception.

Author information

1
Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. antti.tarkiainen@hut.fi

Abstract

Neurones in the human inferior occipitotemporal cortex respond to specific categories of images, such as numbers, letters and faces, within 150-200 ms. Here we identify the locus in time when stimulus-specific analysis emerges by comparing the dynamics of face and letter-string perception in the same 10 individuals. An ideal paradigm was provided by our previous study on letter-strings, in which noise-masking of stimuli revealed putative visual feature processing at 100 ms around the occipital midline followed by letter-string-specific activation at 150 ms in the left inferior occipitotemporal cortex. In the present study, noise-masking of cartoon-like faces revealed that the response at 100 ms increased linearly with the visual complexity of the images, a result that was similar for faces and letter-strings. By 150 ms, faces and letter-strings had entered their own stimulus-specific processing routes in the inferior occipitotemporal cortex, with identical timing and large spatial overlap. However, letter-string analysis lateralized to the left hemisphere, whereas face processing occurred more bilaterally or with right-hemisphere preponderance. The inferior occipitotemporal activations at approximately 150 ms, which take place after the visual feature analysis at approximately 100 ms, are likely to represent a general object-level analysis stage that acts as a rapid gateway to higher cognitive processing.

PMID:
11960901
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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