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J Neurosci. 2015 Apr 1;35(13):5180-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1958-14.2015.

Distributed representation of visual objects by single neurons in the human brain.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013.
2
Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803.
3
Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, and.
4
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85283.
5
Department of Neurology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, and PeterNSteinmetz@steinmetz.org.

Abstract

It remains unclear how single neurons in the human brain represent whole-object visual stimuli. While recordings in both human and nonhuman primates have shown distributed representations of objects (many neurons encoding multiple objects), recordings of single neurons in the human medial temporal lobe, taken as subjects' discriminated objects during multiple presentations, have shown gnostic representations (single neurons encoding one object). Because some studies suggest that repeated viewing may enhance neural selectivity for objects, we had human subjects discriminate objects in a single, more naturalistic viewing session. We found that, across 432 well isolated neurons recorded in the hippocampus and amygdala, the average fraction of objects encoded was 26%. We also found that more neurons encoded several objects versus only one object in the hippocampus (28 vs 18%, p < 0.001) and in the amygdala (30 vs 19%, p < 0.001). Thus, during realistic viewing experiences, typical neurons in the human medial temporal lobe code for a considerable range of objects, across multiple semantic categories.

KEYWORDS:

distributed representation; human single neuron; medial temporal lobe; object representation

PMID:
25834044
PMCID:
PMC4380994
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1958-14.2015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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