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J Neurophysiol. 1994 Mar;71(3):856-67.

Neuronal selectivities to complex object features in the ventral visual pathway of the macaque cerebral cortex.

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Laboratory for Neural Information Processing, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Saitama, Japan.


1. To infer relative roles of cortical areas at different stages of the ventral visual pathway, we quantitatively examined visual responses of cells in V2, V4, the posterior part of the inferotemporal cortex (posterior IT), and the anterior part of the inferotemporal cortex (anterior IT), using anesthetized macaque monkeys. 2. The critical feature for the activation was first determined for each recorded cell by using a reduction method. We started from images of three-dimensional complex objects and simplified the image of effective stimuli step by step by eliminating a part of the features present in the image. The simplest feature that maximally activated the cell was determined as the critical feature. The response to the critical feature was then compared with responses of the same cell to a routine set of 32 simple stimuli, which included white and black bars of four different orientations and squares or spots of four different colors. 3. Cells that responded maximally to particular complex object features were found in posterior IT and V4 as well as in anterior IT. The cells in posterior IT and V4 were, however, different from the cells in anterior IT in that many of them responded to some extent to some simple features, that the size of the receptive field was small, and that they intermingled in single penetrations with cells that responded maximally to some simple features. The complex critical features in posterior IT and V4 varied; they consisted of complex shapes, combinations of a shape and texture, and combinations of a shape and color. 4. We suggest that local neuronal networks in V4 and posterior IT play an essential role in the formation of selective responses to complex object features.

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