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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Dec 1;90(23):10927-31.

Different perceptual tasks performed with the same visual stimulus attribute activate different regions of the human brain: a positron emission tomography study.

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PET Center, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Universitair Ziekenhuis Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


To investigate the processing of visual form in human cerebral cortex, we used the PET (positron emission tomography) activation technique to compare the human brain regions that are involved in a visual detection task and two orientation discrimination tasks: the temporal same-different (TSD) task, which includes a short-term memory component, and the identification (ID) task, which is without this component. As a control task we used passive viewing. Stimuli were identical in all four tasks. Subtraction of passive viewing from detection showed that the detection task activates early visual cortical regions (areas 17/18) as well as several motor brain regions, while decreasing activity in several higher order frontal, temporal, and parietal regions. Comparing the ID task to the detection task revealed no further visual cortical activation, while comparison of the TSD task to the detection task revealed an activation of several right visual cortical regions, one of which remained significant after the subtraction of ID from TSD (right area 19). These experiments demonstrate the task dependence of visual processing, even for very closely related tasks, and the localization of the temporal comparison component involved in orientation discrimination in human area 19.

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