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J Neurosci. 2005 Mar 30;25(13):3459-68.

Specializations for chromatic and temporal signals in human visual cortex.

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Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Neurological case studies and qualitative measurements suggest that regions within human extrastriate cortex are specialized for different perceptual functions, including color. However, there are few quantitative measurements of human extrastriate color specializations. We studied the chromatic and temporal responses in several different clusters of human visual field maps using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Contrast response functions were measured for luminance [(L + M)-cone], red-green [(L - M)-cone] and blue-yellow (S-cone) modulations at various temporal frequencies. In primary visual cortex (V1), temporal responsivities to luminance and red-green modulations are approximately constant up to 10 Hz, but responsivities to blue-yellow modulations decrease significantly. In ventral occipital cortex (VO), all colors elicit strong responses, and, for each color, low temporal frequency modulations are more effective than high temporal frequency modulations. Hence, VO represents the full range of color information but does not respond well to rapid modulations. Conversely, in human motion-selective cortex (MT+) and V3A, blue-yellow modulations elicit very weak responses, whereas luminance and red-green high temporal frequency modulations are equally or more effective than low temporal frequency modulations. Hence, these dorsal occipital regions respond well to rapid modulations, but not all color information is represented. Similar to human motion perception, MT+ and V3A respond powerfully to all temporal frequencies but only to some colors. Similar to human color perception, VO responds powerfully to all colors but only to relatively low temporal frequencies.

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