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J Neurosci. 2016 May 18;36(20):5532-43. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4139-15.2016.

Contour Curvature As an Invariant Code for Objects in Visual Area V4.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Structure, Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195 yasmine1@uw.edu.
2
Department of Biological Structure, Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.

Abstract

Size-invariant object recognition-the ability to recognize objects across transformations of scale-is a fundamental feature of biological and artificial vision. To investigate its basis in the primate cerebral cortex, we measured single neuron responses to stimuli of varying size in visual area V4, a cornerstone of the object-processing pathway, in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Leveraging two competing models for how neuronal selectivity for the bounding contours of objects may depend on stimulus size, we show that most V4 neurons (∼70%) encode objects in a size-invariant manner, consistent with selectivity for a size-independent parameter of boundary form: for these neurons, "normalized" curvature, rather than "absolute" curvature, provided a better account of responses. Our results demonstrate the suitability of contour curvature as a basis for size-invariant object representation in the visual cortex, and posit V4 as a foundation for behaviorally relevant object codes.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

Size-invariant object recognition is a bedrock for many perceptual and cognitive functions. Despite growing neurophysiological evidence for invariant object representations in the primate cortex, we still lack a basic understanding of the encoding rules that govern them. Classic work in the field of visual shape theory has long postulated that a representation of objects based on information about their bounding contours is well suited to mediate such an invariant code. In this study, we provide the first empirical support for this hypothesis, and its instantiation in single neurons of visual area V4.

KEYWORDS:

area V4; neurophysiology; object recognition; primate; shape representation; vision

PMID:
27194333
PMCID:
PMC4871988
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4139-15.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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