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Nat Neurosci. 2002 Jul;5(7):665-70.

Three-dimensional orientation tuning in macaque area V4.

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Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, 338 Krieger Hall, 3400 North Charles Street, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Tuning for the orientation of elongated, linear image elements (edges, bars, gratings), first discovered by Hubel and Wiesel, is considered a key feature of visual processing in the brain. It has been studied extensively in two dimensions (2D) using frontoparallel stimuli, but in real life most lines, edges and contours are slanted with respect to the viewer. Here we report that neurons in macaque area V4, an intermediate stage in the ventral (object-related) pathway of visual cortex, were tuned for 3D orientation--that is,for specific slants as well as for 2D orientation. The tuning for 3D orientation was consistent across depth position (binocular disparity) and position within the 2D classical receptive field. The existence of 3D orientation signals in the ventral pathway suggests that the brain may use such information to interpret 3D shape.

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