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Brain Res. 2009 Dec 8;1301:89-99. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.08.085. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Category expectation modulates baseline and stimulus-evoked activity in human inferotemporal cortex.

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Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, 95618, USA.


Expectation of locations and low-level features increases activity in extrastriate visual areas even in the absence of a stimulus, but it is unclear whether or how expectation of higher-level stimulus properties affects visual responses. Here, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test whether category expectation affects baseline and stimulus-evoked activity in higher-level, category-selective inferotemporal (IT) visual areas. Word cues indicating an image category (FACE or HOUSE) were followed by a delay, then a briefly presented image of a face or a house. On most trials, the cue correctly predicted the upcoming stimulus. Baseline activity in regions within the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA) was modulated such that activity was higher during expectation of the preferred (e.g., FACE for FFA) vs. non-preferred category. Stimulus-evoked responses reflected an initial bias (higher overall activity) followed by increased selectivity (greater difference between activity to a preferred vs. non-preferred stimulus) after expectation of the preferred vs. non-preferred category. Consistent with the putative role of a frontoparietal network in top-down modulation of activity in sensory cortex, expectation-related activity in several frontal and parietal areas correlated with the magnitude of baseline shifts in the FFA and PPA across subjects. Furthermore, expectation-related activity in lateral prefrontal cortex also correlated with the magnitude of expectation-based increases in stimulus selectivity in IT areas. These findings demonstrate that category expectation influences both baseline and stimulus-evoked activity in category-selective inferotemporal visual areas, and that these modulations may be driven by a frontoparietal attentional control network.

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