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Nat Neurosci. 2008 Nov;11(11):1352-60. doi: 10.1038/nn.2202. Epub 2008 Oct 5.

A neural code for three-dimensional object shape in macaque inferotemporal cortex.

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Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Previous investigations of the neural code for complex object shape have focused on two-dimensional pattern representation. This may be the primary mode for object vision given its simplicity and direct relation to the retinal image. In contrast, three-dimensional shape representation requires higher-dimensional coding derived from extensive computation. We found evidence for an explicit neural code for complex three-dimensional object shape. We used an evolutionary stimulus strategy and linear/nonlinear response models to characterize three-dimensional shape responses in macaque monkey inferotemporal cortex (IT). We found widespread tuning for three-dimensional spatial configurations of surface fragments characterized by their three-dimensional orientations and joint principal curvatures. Configural representation of three-dimensional shape could provide specific knowledge of object structure to support guidance of complex physical interactions and evaluation of object functionality and utility.

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