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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jan;23(1):198-209. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs004. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Curvature processing dynamics in macaque area V4.

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Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


We have previously analyzed shape processing dynamics in macaque monkey posterior inferotemporal cortex (PIT). We described how early PIT responses to individual contour fragments evolve into tuning for multifragment shape configurations. Here, we analyzed curvature processing dynamics in area V4, which provides feedforward inputs to PIT. We contrasted 2 hypotheses: 1) that V4 curvature tuning evolves from tuning for simpler elements, analogous to PIT shape synthesis and 2) that V4 curvature tuning emerges immediately, based on purely feedforward mechanisms. Our results clearly supported the first hypothesis. Early V4 responses carried information about individual contour orientations. Tuning for multiorientation (curved) contours developed gradually over ∼50 ms. Together, the current and previous results suggest a partial sequence for shape synthesis in ventral pathway cortex. We propose that early orientation signals are synthesized into curved contour fragment representations in V4 and that these signals are transmitted to PIT, where they are then synthesized into multifragment shape representations. The observed dynamics might additionally or alternatively reflect influences from earlier (V1, V2) and later (central and anterior IT) processing stages in the ventral pathway. In either case, the dynamics of contour information in V4 and PIT appear to reflect a sequential hierarchical process of shape synthesis.

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