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Nat Neurosci. 2008 Dec;11(12):1439-45. doi: 10.1038/nn.2218. Epub 2008 Nov 2.

Feedback of visual object information to foveal retinotopic cortex.

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The mammalian visual system contains an extensive web of feedback connections projecting from higher cortical areas to lower areas, including primary visual cortex. Although multiple theories have been proposed, the role of these connections in perceptual processing is not understood. We found that the pattern of functional magnetic resonance imaging response in human foveal retinotopic cortex contained information about objects presented in the periphery, far away from the fovea, which has not been predicted by prior theories of feedback. This information was position invariant, correlated with perceptual discrimination accuracy and was found only in foveal, but not peripheral, retinotopic cortex. Our data cannot be explained by differential eye movements, activation from the fixation cross, or spillover activation from peripheral retinotopic cortex or from lateral occipital complex. Instead, our findings indicate that position-invariant object information from higher cortical areas is fed back to foveal retinotopic cortex, enhancing task performance.

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