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Sven Panis, Joris Vangeneugden, Hans P. Op de Beeck, Johan Wagemans; The representation of subordinate shape similarity in human occipitotemporal cortex. Journal of Vision 2008;8(10):9. doi: 10.1167/8.10.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We investigated the coding of subordinate shape similarity in human object-selective cortex in two event-related functional magnetic resonance adaptation (fMR-A) experiments. Previous studies using faces have concluded that there is a narrow tuning of neuronal populations selective to each face, and that tuning is relative to the expected “average” face (norm-based encoding). Here we investigated these issues using outlines of animals and tools occupying a particular position on different morphing sequences per category. In a first experiment, we inferred the width of neural tuning to exemplars by examining whether the release from adaptation with increasing shape changes between two stimuli asymptotes. In a second experiment, we compared the response to central and extreme positions in shape space while controlling for the number of presentations of each unique stimulus to study whether the expected “average” category exemplar plays a role. The current fMR-A results show that a small change in exemplar shape produces a large release of adaptation, but only for outline shape changes of animals and not for man-made tools. Furthermore, our results suggested that central and extreme positions were not treated differently. Together, these results suggest a narrow tuning in object-selective cortex for individual exemplars from natural object categories, consistent with an exemplar-based encoding principle.
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